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  1. The electronically excited singlet states of nitroaromatic compounds are often presumed to be essentially non-fluorescent. Nonetheless, a growing number of reports in the literature have demonstrated that certain structural types of nitroaromatics can indeed fluoresce, and often quite efficiently. Consideration of the mechanisms responsible for the typical fast or ultrafast non-radiative deactivation of the excited singlet states of nitroaromatics points to several general principles for their design that combine the strong electron-withdrawing properties of the nitro group with reasonable fluorescence quantum yields. An overview of published examples of fluorescent nitroaromatics emphasizes these concepts in the context of the importance of chromophore architecture and conformation and the defining roles of excited state charge transfer and solvent polarity in modulating the non-radiative decay channels that compete with fluorescence. Overcoming the stigma that nitroaromatics are intrinsically destined to be non-fluorescent thus paves the way for incorporating the strongly electron-withdrawing nitro group into the existing toolbox for the development of new nitro-substituted fluorophores and chromophores tuned to specific applications.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  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.