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Title: Deciphering the unusual fluorescence in weakly coupled bis-nitro-pyrrolo[3,2-b]pyrroles

Electron-deficient π-conjugated functional dyes lie at the heart of organic optoelectronics. Adding nitro groups to aromatic compounds usually quenches their fluorescence via inter-system crossing (ISC) or internal conversion (IC). While strong electronic coupling of the nitro groups with the dyes ensures the benefits from these electron-withdrawing substituents, it also leads to fluorescence quenching. Here, we demonstrate how such electronic coupling affects the photophysics of acceptor–donor–acceptor fluorescent dyes, with nitrophenyl acceptors and a pyrrolo[3,2-b]pyrrole donor. The position of the nitro groups and the donor-acceptor distance strongly affect the fluorescence properties of thebis-nitrotetraphenylpyrrolopyrroles. Concurrently, increasing solvent polarity quenches the emission that recovers upon solidifying the media. Intramolecular charge transfer (CT) and molecular dynamics, therefore, govern the fluorescence of these nitro-aromatics. While balanced donor-acceptor coupling ensures fast radiative deactivation and slow ISC essential for large fluorescence quantum yields, vibronic borrowing accounts for medium dependent IC via back CT. These mechanistic paradigms set important design principles for molecular photonics and electronics.

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Communications Chemistry
Nature Publishing Group
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National Science Foundation
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