Fluorescence quantum yield rationalized by the magnitude of the charge transfer in π-conjugated terpyridine derivatives
Terpyridine derivatives are of great interest due to their unique photophysical properties when used as antennas in metallic complexes. Several experimental and theoretical studies indicate strong charge-transfer character of the lowest electronic excited state, which could be exploited for predicting fluorescence quantum yields from the magnitude of the charge separation induced by electronic transitions. Focusing on substituted 4′-phenyl-2,2′:6′2′′-terpyridyl, we report on two measures of the charge separation obtained from high-level calculations in ground and excited states (length of the change of the dipole moment and the electron–hole distance). Our refined model confirms that the fluorescence quantum yield shows a global S-shape dependence on the magnitude of the charge separation, which can be quantified either by the change in dipole moments between the ground and excited states or by the associated charge–hole distances. This approach provides a remarkable tool for the molecular design of a fluorescent polyaromatic antenna.