J-aggregation and its characterization in Langmuir-Blodgett films of merocyanine dyes

Shin-ichi Kuroda
Advances in Colloid and Interface Science 2004 December 13, 111 (3): 181-209
Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) films are constructed by successively transferring monomolecular layers formed at the air-water interface onto solid substrates. One of the advantages of the LB technique in fabricating molecular aggregates lies in the fact that it can employ various kinds of molecules by mixing them at the air-water interface. The mixed system may exhibit new properties that are not observed for individual components. This method would be useful, for example, in the studies of the formation and control of the J-aggregates of functional dyes that attract attention both in science and technology. In this paper, I review this subject mainly based on our recent results in merocyanines. LB films of merocyanine dyes, mixed with arachidic acid (C(20)), exhibit J-aggregate formation and have been serving as typical systems in revealing the physical and structural aspects of nanosized molecular aggregates constructed as monolayers. In the case of LB films of a merocyanine dye having benzothiazole as donor nucleus (abbreviated as DS), electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy has been successful in determining the characteristic in-plane orientation of dye molecules with respect to the dipping direction, which led to the discovery of the flow orientation effect during the dipping process of LB films as the origin of optical dichroism often observed in LB films. In this article, after an introduction of ESR spectroscopy, three major topics on the merocyanine J-aggregation and its characterization in mixed films are discussed. The first topic is the observation and control of the size of J-aggregates in the dilution limit of dyes in arachidic acid matrix for a methyl-substituted DS (6-Me-DS). Dependence of atomic force microscopy (AFM) patterns on the molar ratio allows the identification of dye domains. J-band optical peak analysis based on the Kuhn's extended dipole model, supplemented by a novel application of femtosecond pump-probe optical spectroscopy, yields the size of the J-aggregates of 10(3). The second topic is the control of the J-band peak wavelengths by mixing two different kinds of dye molecules. The first case is the mixture of a J-forming 6-Me-DS and non-J-forming merocyanine analog, DO with benzo-oxazole instead of benzothiazole of DS. The second case is the mixture of both J-forming dyes but with different J-band peak positions, 6-Me-DS and another analog of 5-Cl-DS. The optical peak shifts depending on the molar mixing ratio will be presented. The last topic is related to the elucidation of electronic states of dye molecules in the J-aggregates. Light-induced ESR (LESR) of DS films with stable isotope ((15)N or (13)C)-substituted dyes provide clear evidence for the photoinduced charge transfer by the detection of hyperfine structures. Moreover, infrared (IR) spectroscopy of (13)C-enriched dye identifies the IR absorption peak of the relevant carbon in the chromophore. The results give evidence for the enhanced intramolecular charge transfer of dyes in the J-aggregates compared with an isolated merocyanine composed of donor and acceptor moiety. Lastly, the Cl attachment in 5-Cl-DS leads to a significant enhancement of the nitrogen hyperfine coupling in the LESR spectra. These examples and others demonstrate the potential of LB films of merocyanines in the studies of the nanosized molecular aggregates in monolayer assemblies.

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