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Light-Activated Intercluster Conversion of an Atomically Precise Silver Nanocluster

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journal contribution
posted on 04.10.2021, 13:03 authored by Arijit Jana, Madhuri Jash, Ajay Kumar Poonia, Ganesan Paramasivam, Md Rabiul Islam, Papri Chakraborty, Sudhadevi Antharjanam, Jan Machacek, Sundargopal Ghosh, Kumaran Nair Valsala Devi Adarsh, Tomas Base, Thalappil Pradeep
Noble metal nanoclusters protected with carboranes, a 12-vertex, nearly icosahedral boron–carbon framework system, have received immense attention due to their different physicochemical properties. We have synthesized ortho-carborane-1,2-dithiol (CBDT) and triphenylphosphine (TPP) coprotected [Ag42(CBDT)15(TPP)4]2– (shortly Ag42) using a ligand-exchange induced structural transformation reaction starting from [Ag18H16(TPP)10]2+ (shortly Ag18). The formation of Ag42 was confirmed using UV–vis absorption spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, transmission electron microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, and multinuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Multiple UV–vis optical absorption features, which exhibit characteristic patterns, confirmed its molecular nature. Ag42 is the highest nuclearity silver nanocluster protected with carboranes reported so far. Although these clusters are thermally stable up to 200 °C in their solid state, light-irradiation of its solutions in dichloromethane results in its structural conversion to [Ag14(CBDT)6(TPP)6] (shortly Ag14). Single crystal X-ray diffraction of Ag14 exhibits Ag8–Ag6 core–shell structure of this nanocluster. Other spectroscopic and microscopic studies also confirm the formation of Ag14. Time-dependent mass spectrometry revealed that this light-activated intercluster conversion went through two sets of intermediate clusters. The first set of intermediates, [Ag37(CBDT)12(TPP)4]3– and [Ag35(CBDT)8(TPP)4]2– were formed after 8 h of light irradiation, and the second set comprised of [Ag30(CBDT)8(TPP)4]2–, [Ag26(CBDT)11(TPP)4]2–, and [Ag26(CBDT)7(TPP)7]2– were formed after 16 h of irradiation. After 24 h, the conversion to Ag14 was complete. Density functional theory calculations reveal that the kernel-centered excited state molecular orbitals of Ag42 are responsible for light-activated transformation. Interestingly, Ag42 showed near-infrared emission at 980 nm (1.26 eV) with a lifetime of >1.5 μs, indicating phosphorescence, while Ag14 shows red luminescence at 626 nm (1.98 eV) with a lifetime of 550 ps, indicating fluorescence. Femtosecond and nanosecond transient absorption showed the transitions between their electronic energy levels and associated carrier dynamics. Formation of the stable excited states of Ag42 is shown to be responsible for the core transformation.