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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 9, 2024
  2. Photomechanical molecular crystals have garnered attention for their ability to transform light into mechanical work, but difficulties in characterizing the structural changes and mechanical responses experimentally have hindered the development of practical organic crystal engines. This study proposes a new computational framework for predicting the solid-state crystal-to-crystal photochemical transformations entirely from first principles, and it establishes a photomechanical engine cycle that quantifies the anisotropic mechanical performance resulting from the transformation. The approach relies on crystal structure prediction, solid-state topochemical principles, and high-quality electronic structure methods. After validating the framework on the well-studied [4 + 4] cycloadditions in 9-methyl anthracene and 9- tert -butyl anthracene ester, the experimentally-unknown solid-state transformation of 9-carboxylic acid anthracene is predicted for the first time. The results illustrate how the mechanical work is done by relaxation of the crystal lattice to accommodate the photoproduct, rather than by the photochemistry itself. The large ∼10 7 J m −3 work densities computed for all three systems highlight the promise of photomechanical crystal engines. This study demonstrates the importance of crystal packing in determining molecular crystal engine performance and provides tools and insights to design improved materials in silico . 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 25, 2024
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 7, 2023
  4. Abstract The application potential of singlet fission (SF), describing the spontaneous conversion of an excited singlet into two triplets, underlines the necessity to independently control SF rates, energetics and the optical band gap. Heterofission, whereby the singlet splits into triplets on chemically distinct chromophores, is a promising approach to control the above-mentioned parameters, but its details are not yet fully understood. Here, we investigate the photophysics of blends of two prototypical SF chromophores, tetracene (TET) and rubrene (RUB) using time-resolved photoluminescence spectroscopy and time-correlated single photon counting to explore the potential for heterofission in combinations of endothermic SF chromophores. 
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  6. Aluminum monochloride (AlCl) has been proposed as a promising candidate for laser cooling to ultracold temperatures, and recent spectroscopy results support this prediction. It is challenging to produce large numbers of AlCl molecules because it is a highly reactive open-shell molecule and must be generated in situ . Here we show that pulsed-laser ablation of stable, non-toxic mixtures of Al with alkali or alkaline earth chlorides, denoted XCl n , can provide a robust and reliable source of cold AlCl molecules. Both the chemical identity of XCl n and the Al : XCl n molar ratio are varied, and the yield of AlCl is monitored using absorption spectroscopy in a cryogenic gas. For KCl, the production of Al and K atoms was also monitored. We model the AlCl production in the limits of nonequilibrium recombination dominated by first-encounter events. The non-equilibrium model is in agreement with the data and also reproduces the observed trend with different XCl n precursors. We find that AlCl production is limited by the solid-state densities of Al and Cl atoms and the recondensation of Al atoms in the ablation plume. We suggest future directions for optimizing the production of cold AlCl molecules using laser ablation. 
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  7. Abstract The fission of singlet excitons into triplet pairs in organic materials holds great technological promise, but the rational application of this phenomenon is hampered by a lack of understanding of its complex photophysics. Here, we use the controlled introduction of vacancies by means of spacer molecules in tetracene and pentacene thin films as a tuning parameter complementing experimental observables to identify the operating principles of different singlet fission pathways. Time-resolved spectroscopic measurements in combination with microscopic modelling enables us to demonstrate distinct scenarios, resulting from different singlet-to-triplet pair energy alignments. For pentacene, where fission is exothermic, coherent mixing between the photoexcited singlet and triplet-pair states is promoted by vibronic resonances, which drives the fission process with little sensitivity to the vacancy concentration. Such vibronic resonances do not occur for endothermic materials such as tetracene, for which we find fission to be fully incoherent; a process that is shown to slow down with increasing vacancy concentration. 
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    Photomechanical materials exhibit mechanical motion in response to light as an external stimulus. They have attracted much attention because they can convert light energy directly to mechanical energy, and their motions can be controlled without any physical contact. This review paper introduces the photomechanical motions of photoresponsive molecular crystals, especially bending and twisting behaviors, from the viewpoint of symmetry breaking. The bending (right–left symmetry breaking) and twisting (chiral symmetry breaking) of photomechanical crystals are based on both intrinsic and extrinsic factors like molecular orientation in the crystal and illumination conditions. The ability to design and control this symmetry breaking will be vital for generating new science and new technological applications for organic crystalline materials. 
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