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  1. Exciton delocalization plays a prominent role in the photophysics of molecular aggregates, ultimately governing their particular function or application. DNA is a compelling scaffold in which to template molecular aggregates and promote exciton delocalization. As individual dye molecules are the basis of exciton delocalization in molecular aggregates, their judicious selection is important. Motivated by their excellent photostability and spectral properties, here we examine the ability of squaraine dyes to undergo exciton delocalization when aggregated via a DNA Holliday junction (HJ) template. A commercially available indolenine squaraine dye was chosen for the study given its strong structural resemblance to Cy5, a commercially available cyanine dye previously shown to undergo exciton delocalization in DNA HJs. Three types of DNA-dye aggregate configurations—transverse dimer, adjacent dimer, and tetramer—were investigated. Signatures of exciton delocalization were observed in all squaraine-DNA aggregates. Specifically, strong blue shift and Davydov splitting were observed in steady-state absorption spectroscopy and exciton-induced features were evident in circular dichroism spectroscopy. Strongly suppressed fluorescence emission provided additional, indirect evidence for exciton delocalization in the DNA-templated squaraine dye aggregates. To quantitatively evaluate and directly compare the excitonic Coulombic coupling responsible for exciton delocalization, the strength of excitonic hopping interactions between the dyes were obtained bymore »simultaneous fitting the experimental steady-state absorption and CD spectra via a Holstein-like Hamiltonian in which, following the theoretical approach of Kühn, Renger, and May, the dominant vibrational mode is explicitly considered. The excitonic hopping strength within indolenine squaraines was found to be comparable to that of the analogous Cy5 DNA-templated aggregate. The squaraine aggregates adopted primarily an H-type (dyes oriented parallel to each other) spatial arrangement. Extracted geometric details of dye mutual orientation in the aggregates enabled close comparison of aggregate configurations and the elucidation of the influence of dye angular relationship on excitonic hopping interactions in squaraine aggregates. These results encourage the application of squaraine-based aggregates in next generation systems driven by molecular excitons.« less
  2. Abstract

    Molecular excitons play a central role in natural and artificial light harvesting, organic electronics, and nanoscale computing. The structure and dynamics of molecular excitons, critical to each application, are sensitively governed by molecular packing. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) templating is a powerful approach that enables controlled aggregation via sub-nanometer positioning of molecular dyes. However, finer sub-Angstrom control of dye packing is needed to tailor excitonic properties for specific applications. Here, we show that adding rotaxane rings to squaraine dyes templated with DNA promotes an elusive oblique packing arrangement with highly desirable optical properties. Specifically, dimers of these squaraine:rotaxanes exhibit an absorption spectrum with near-equal intensity excitonically split absorption bands. Theoretical analysis indicates that the transitions are mostly electronic in nature and only have similar intensities over a narrow range of packing angles. Compared with squaraine dimers, squaraine:rotaxane dimers also exhibit extended excited-state lifetimes and less structural heterogeneity. The approach proposed here may be generally useful for optimizing excitonic materials for a variety of applications ranging from solar energy conversion to quantum information science.