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  1. Abstract Biomimicry, biomimesis and bioinspiration define distinctly different approaches for deepening the understanding of how living systems work and employing this knowledge to meet pressing demands in engineering. Biomimicry involves shear imitation of biological structures that most often do not reproduce the functionality that they have while in the living organisms. Biomimesis aims at reproduction of biological structure-function relationships and advances our knowledge of how different components of complex living systems work. Bioinspiration employs this knowledge in abiotic manners that are optimal for targeted applications. This article introduces and reviews these concepts in a global historic perspective. Representative examples from charge-transfer science and solar-energy engineering illustrate the evolution from biomimetic to bioinspired approaches and show their importance. Bioinspired molecular electrets, aiming at exploration of dipole effects on charge transfer, demonstrate the pintail impacts of biological inspiration that reach beyond its high utilitarian values. The abiotic character of bioinspiration opens doors for the emergence of unprecedented properties and phenomena, beyond what nature can offer.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 insightsmore »into structural motifs for mediating ET and HT in proteins.« less
  4. 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.
  5. Abstract “Biomimetic” and “bioinspired” define different aspects of the impacts that biology exerts on science and engineering. Biomimicking improves the understanding of how living systems work, and builds tools for bioinspired endeavors. Biological inspiration takes ideas from biology and implements them in unorthodox manners, exceeding what nature offers. Molecular electrets, i.e. systems with ordered electric dipoles, are key for advancing charge-transfer (CT) science and engineering. Protein helices and their biomimetic analogues, based on synthetic polypeptides, are the best-known molecular electrets. The inability of native polypeptide backbones to efficiently mediate long-range CT, however, limits their utility. Bioinspired molecular electrets based on anthranilamides can overcome the limitations of their biological and biomimetic counterparts. Polypeptide helices are easy to synthesize using established automated protocols. These protocols, however, fail to produce even short anthranilamide oligomers. For making anthranilamides, the residues are introduced as their nitrobenzoic-acid derivatives, and the oligomers are built from their C- to their N-termini via amide-coupling and nitro-reduction steps. The stringent requirements for these reduction and coupling steps pose non-trivial challenges, such as high selectivity, quantitative yields, and fast completion under mild conditions. Addressing these challenges will provide access to bioinspired molecular electrets essential for organic electronics and energy conversion.