Photoinduced energy and electron-transfer processes in porphyrin-perylene bisimide symmetric triads

Marco Ghirotti, Claudio Chiorboli, Chang-Cheng You, Frank Würthner, Franco Scandola
Journal of Physical Chemistry. A 2008 April 17, 112 (15): 3376-85
The photophysics of two symmetric triads, (ZnP)2PBI and (H2P)2PBI, made of two zinc or free-base porphyrins covalently attached to a central perylene bisimide unit has been investigated in dichloromethane and in toluene. The solvent has been shown to affect not only quantitatively but also qualitatively the photophysical behavior. A variety of intercomponent processes (singlet energy transfer, triplet energy transfer, photoinduced charge separation, and recombination) have been time-resolved using a combination of emission spectroscopy and femtosecond and nanosecond time-resolved absorption techniques yielding a very detailed picture of the photophysics of these systems. The singlet excited state of the lowest energy chromophore (perylene bisimide in the case of (ZnP)2PBI, porphyrin in the case of (H2P)2PBI) is always quantitatively populated, besides by direct light absorption, by ultrafast singlet energy transfer (few picosecond time constant) from the higher energy chromophore. In dichloromethane, the lowest excited singlet state is efficiently quenched by electron transfer leading to a charge-separated state where the porphyrin is oxidized and the perylene bisimide is reduced. The systems then go back to the ground state by charge recombination. The four charge separation and recombination processes observed for (ZnP)2PBI and (H2P)2PBI in dichloromethane take place in the sub-nanosecond time scale. They obey standard free-energy correlations with charge separation lying in the normal regime and charge recombination in the Marcus inverted region. In less polar solvents, such as toluene, the energy of the charge-separated states is substantially lifted leading to sharp changes in photophysical mechanism. With (ZnP)2PBI, the electron-transfer quenching is still fast, but charge recombination takes place now in the nanosecond time scale and to triplet state products rather than to the ground state. Triplet-triplet energy transfer from the porphyrin to the perylene bisimide is also involved in the subsequent deactivation of the triplet manifold to the ground state. With (H2P)2PBI, on the other hand, the driving force for charge separation is too small for electron-transfer quenching, and the deactivation of the porphyrin excited singlet takes place via intersystem crossing to the triplet followed by triplet energy transfer to the perylene bisimide and final decay to the ground state.

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