Fast Charge Separation in Distant Donor-Acceptor Dyads Driven by Relaxation of a Hot Excited State

Zimu Wei, Abbey M. Philip, Wolter F. Jager*, Ferdinand C. Grozema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


A series of three perylenemonoimide-p-oligophenylene-dimethylaniline molecular dyads undergo photoinduced charge separation (CS) with anomalous distance dependence as a function of increasing donor-acceptor (DA) distances. A comprehensive experimental and computational investigation of the photodynamics in the donor-bridge-acceptor (DBA) chromophores reveals a clear demarcation concerning the nature of the CS accessed at shorter (bridgeless) and longer DA distances. At the shortest distance, a strong DA interaction and ground-state charge delocalization populate a hot excited state (ES) with prominent charge transfer (CT) character, via Franck-Condon vertical excitation. The presence of such a CT-polarized hot ES enables a subpicosecond CS in the bridgeless dyad. The incorporation of the p-oligophenylene bridge effectively decouples the donor and the acceptor units in the ground state and consequentially suppresses the CT polarization in the hot ES. Theoretically, this should render a slower CS at longer distances. However, the transient absorption measurement reveals a fast CS process at the longer distance, contrary to the anticipated exponential distance dependence of the CS rates. A closer look into the excited-state dynamics suggests that the hot ES undergoes ultrafast geometry relaxation (τ < 1 ps) to create a relaxed ES. As compared to a decoupled, twisted geometry in the hot ES, the geometry of the relaxed ES exhibits a more planar conformation of the p-oligophenylene bridges. Planarization of the bridge endorses an increased charge delocalization and a prominent CT character in the relaxed ES and forms the origin for the evident fast CS at the longest distance. Thus, the relaxation of the hot ES and the concomitantly enhanced charge delocalization adds a new caveat to the classic nature of distance-dependent CS in artificial DBA chromophores and recommends a cautious treatment of the attenuation factor (β) while discussing anomalous CS trends.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19250-19261
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number45
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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