Direct Imaging of Exciton Transport in Tubular Porphyrin Aggregates by Ultrafast Microscopy

Yan Wan, Anna Stradomska, Jasper Knoester, Libai Huang
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2017 May 31, 139 (21): 7287-7293
Long-range exciton transport is a key challenge in achieving efficient solar energy harvesting in both organic solar cells and photosynthetic systems. Self-assembled molecular aggregates provide the potential for attaining long-range exciton transport through strong intermolecular coupling. However, there currently lacks an experimental tool to directly characterize exciton transport in space and in time to elucidate mechanisms. Here we report a direct visualization of exciton diffusion in tubular molecular aggregates by transient absorption microscopy with ∼200 fs time resolution and ∼50 nm spatial precision. These direct measurements provide exciton diffusion constants of 3-6 cm2 s-1 for the tubular molecular aggregates, which are 3-5 times higher than a theoretical lower bound obtained by assuming incoherent hopping. These results suggest that coherent effects play a role, despite the fact that exciton states near the band bottom crucial for transport are only weakly delocalized (over <10 molecules). The methods presented here establish a direct approach for unraveling the mechanisms and main parameters underlying exciton transport in large molecular assemblies.

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