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Unraveling the Mechanism of Near-Infrared Thermally Activated Delayed Fluorescence of TPA-Based Molecules: Effect of Hydrogen Bond Steric Hindrance

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journal contribution
posted on 06.04.2021, 17:33 authored by Can Leng, Sheng You, Yubing Si, Hai-Mei Qin, Jie Liu, Wei-Qing Huang, Keqin Li
A recently synthesized novel molecule (named CAT-1) exhibits intriguing near-infrared (NIR) thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) close to 1000 nm wavelength; however, the mechanism behind these intrinsic properties is not fully understood. Herein, we unravel that the fluorescence emission spectrum with a broad wavelength range (770–950 nm) of CAT-1 is primarily induced by hydrogen bond steric hindrance based on density functional theory and Marcus theory. It is found that the hydrogen bond steric hindrance plays a critical role in inhibiting the twist of the configuration of different excited states, which leads to the minor driving force for fast electron trapping between the excited states, as well as small internal reorganization energy caused by less changed geometric configuration. Furthermore, such steric hindrance will cause a more distorted plane, resulting in a less favorable electron delocalization. A faster reverse intersystem crossing (RISC) rate is then obtained due to the nearly unchanged conformation between excited states caused by steric hindrance, although the spin–orbit coupling is small. Consequently, the NIR TADF with a longer wavelength can be emitted in CAT-1. This work shows that the hydrogen bond steric hindrance can fine-tune the electronic interactions of the donor and acceptor units to control the TADF.