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Phosphorescence Control Mediated by Molecular Rotation and Aurophilic Interactions in Amphidynamic Crystals of 1,4-Bis[tri‑(p‑fluorophenyl)phosphane-gold(I)-ethynyl]benzene

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journal contribution
posted on 20.11.2017, 00:00 by Mingoo Jin, Tim S. Chung, Tomohiro Seki, Hajime Ito, Miguel A. Garcia-Garibay
Here we present a structural design aimed at the control of phosphorescence emission as the result of changes in molecular rotation in a crystalline material. The proposed strategy includes the use of aurophilic interactions, both as a crystal engineering tool and as a sensitive emission probe, and the use of a dumbbell-shaped architecture intended to create a low packing density region that permits the rotation of a central phenylene. Molecular rotor 1, with a central 1,4-diethynylphenylene rotator linked to two gold­(I) triphenylphosphane complexes, was prepared and its structure confirmed by single-crystal X-ray diffraction, which revealed chains mediated by dimeric aurophilic interactions. We showed that green-emitting crystals exhibit reversible luminescent color changes between 298 and 193 K, which correlate with changes in rotational motion determined by variable-temperature solid-state 2H NMR spin–echo experiments. Fast two-fold rotation with a frequency of ca. 4.00 MHz (τ = 0.25 μs) at 298 K becomes essentially static below 193 K as emission steadily changes from green to yellow in this temperature interval. A correlation between phosphorescence lifetimes and rotational frequencies is interpreted in terms of conformational changes arising from rotation of the central phenylene, which causes a change in electronic communication between the gold-linked rotors, as suggested by DFT studies. These results and control experiments with analogue 2, possessing a hindered tetramethylphenylene that is unable to rotate in the crystal, suggest that the molecular rotation can be a useful tool for controlling luminescence in the crystalline state.