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  1. Medium viscosity strongly affects the dynamics of solvated species and can drastically alter the deactivation pathways of their excited states. This study demonstrates the utility of poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) as a room-temperature solid-state medium for optical spectroscopy. As a thermoset elastic polymer, PDMS is transparent in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared spectral regions. It is easy to mould into any shape, forming surfaces with a pronounced smoothness. While PDMS is broadly used for the fabrication of microfluidic devices, it swells in organic solvents, presenting severe limitations for the utility of such devices for applications employing non-aqueous fluids. Nevertheless, this swelling is reversible, which proves immensely beneficial for loading samples into the PDMS solid matrix. Transferring molecular-rotor dyes (used for staining prokaryotic cells and amyloid proteins) from non-viscous solvents into PDMS induces orders-of-magnitude enhancement of their fluorescence quantum yield and excited-state lifetimes, providing mechanistic insights about their deactivation pathways. These findings demonstrate the unexplored potential of PDMS as a solid solvent for optical applications. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 5, 2025
  2. Intermediate donor–acceptor electronic coupling leads to a brilliant fluorescence behaviour.

    Charge transfer (CT) is key for molecular photonics, governing the optical properties of chromophores comprising electron-rich and electron-deficient components. In photoexcited dyes with an acceptor– donor–acceptor or donor–acceptor–donor architecture, CT breaks their quadrupolar symmetry and yields dipolar structures manifesting pronounced solvatochromism. Herein, we explore the effects of electronic coupling through biaryl linkers on the excited-state symmetry breaking of such hybrid dyes composed of an electron-rich core, i.e., 1,4-dihydropyrrolo[3,2-b]pyrrole (DHPP), and pyrene substituents that can act as electron acceptors. Experimental and theoretical studies reveal that strengthening the donor–acceptor electronic coupling decreases the CT rates and the propensity for symmetry breaking. We ascribe this unexpected result to effects of electronic coupling on the CT thermodynamics, which in its turn affects the CT kinetics. In cases of intermediate electronic coupling, the pyrene-DHPP conjugates produce fluorescence spectra, spreading over the whole visible range, that in addition to the broad CT emission, show bands from the radiative deactivation of the locally excited states of the donor and the acceptors. Because the radiative deactivation of the low-lying CT states is distinctly slow, fluorescence from upper locally excited states emerge leading to the observed anti- Kasha behaviour. As a result, these dyes exhibit white fluorescence. In addition to demonstrating the multifaceted nature of the effects of electronic coupling on CT dynamics, these chromophores can act as broad-band light sources with practical importance for imaging and photonics. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
    Abstract In the first two decades of the XXI century, corroles have emerged as an important class of porphyrinoids for photonics and biomedical photonics. In comparison with porphyrins, corroles have lower molecular symmetry and higher electron density, which leads to uniquely complementary properties. In macrocycles of free-base corroles, for example, three protons are distributed among four pyrrole nitrogens. It results in distinct tautomers that have different thermodynamic energies. Herein, we focus on the excited-state dynamics of a corrole modified with l -phenylalanine. The tautomerization in the singlet-excited state occurs in the timescales of about 10–100 picoseconds and exhibits substantial kinetic isotope effects. It, however, does not discernably affect nanosecond deactivation of the photoexcited corrole and its basic photophysics. Nevertheless, this excited-state tautomerization dynamics can strongly affect photoinduced processes with comparable or shorter timescales, considering the 100-meV energy differences between the tautomers in the excited state. The effects on the kinetics of charge transfer and energy transfer, initiated prior to reaching the equilibrium thermalization of the excited-state tautomer population, can be indeed substantial. Such considerations are crucially important in the design of systems for artificial photosynthesis and other forms of energy conversion and charge transduction. 
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  4. Nitroaromatics seldom fluoresce. The importance of electron-deficient (n-type) conjugates, however, has inspired a number of strategies for suppressing the emission-quenching effects of the strongly electron-withdrawing nitro group. Here, we demonstrate how such strategies yield fluorescent nitroaryl derivatives of dipyrrolonaphthyridinedione (DPND). Nitro groups near the DPND core quench its fluorescence. Conversely, nitro groups placed farther from the core allow some of the highest fluorescence quantum yields ever recorded for nitroaromatics. This strategy of preventing the known processes that compete with photoemission, however, leads to the emergence of unprecedented alternative mechanisms for fluorescence quenching, involving transitions to dark nπ* singlet states and aborted photochemistry. Forming nπ* triplet states from ππ* singlets is a classical pathway for fluorescence quenching. In nitro-DPNDs, however, these ππ* and nπ* excited states are both singlets, and they are common for nitroaryl conjugates. Understanding the excited-state dynamics of such nitroaromatics is crucial for designing strongly fluorescent electron-deficient conjugates. 
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  5. This article reports two discoveries. (1) 2-Methoxyethanol induces unprecedented selectivity for etherification of 5-hydroxy-2-nitrobenzic acids without forming undesired esters. (2) Such compounds are precursors for amides showing unusual robustness against oxidative degradation, essential for molecular electrets that transfer strongly oxidizing holes at about −6.4 eV vs. vacuum. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    Elucidating the factors that control charge transfer rates in relatively flexible conjugates is of importance for understanding energy flows in biology as well as assisting the design and construction of electronic devices. Here, we report ultrafast electron transfer (ET) and hole transfer (HT) between a corrole (Cor) donor linked to a perylene-diimide (PDI) acceptor by a tetrameric alanine (Ala) 4 . Selective photoexcitation of the donor and acceptor triggers subpicosecond and picosecond ET and HT. Replacement of the (Ala) 4 linker with either a single alanine or phenylalanine does not substantially affect the ET and HT kinetics. We infer that electronic coupling in these reactions is not mediated by tetrapeptide backbone nor by direct donor–acceptor interactions. Employing a combination of NMR, circular dichroism, and computational studies, we show that intramolecular hydrogen bonding brings the donor and the acceptor into proximity in a “scorpion-shaped” molecular architecture, thereby accounting for the unusually high ET and HT rates. Photoinduced charge transfer relies on a (Cor)NH … O=C–NH … O=C(PDI) electronic-coupling pathway involving two pivotal hydrogen bonds and a central amide group as a mediator. Our work provides guidelines for construction of effective donor–acceptor assemblies linked by long flexible bridges as well as insights into structural motifs for mediating ET and HT in proteins. 
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  7. Abstract

    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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