Organic intramolecular exciplexes, N-(4-dimethylaminobenzyl)-N-(1-pyrenemethyl)amine (1) and N′-4-dimethylaminonaphthyl-N-(1-pyrenemethyl)amine (2), were used as model systems to reveal major factors affecting their exciplex fluorescence, and thus lay the basis for developing emissive target-assembled exciplexes for DNA-mounted systems in solution. These models with an aromatic pyrenyl hydrocarbon moiety as an electron acceptor appropriately connected to an aromatic dimethylamino electron donor component (N,N-dimethylaminophenyl or N,N-dimethylaminonaphthyl) showed strong intramolecular exciplex emission in both non-polar and highly polar solvents. The effect of dielectric constant on the maximum wavelength for exciplex emission was studied, and emission was observed for 1 and 2 over the full range of solvent from non-polar hydrocarbons up to N-methylformamide with a dielectric constant of 182. Quantum yields were determined for these intramolecular exciplexes in a range of solvents relative to that for Hoechst 33258. Conformational analysis of 1 was performed both computationally and via qualitative 2D NMR using 1H-NOESY experiments. The results obtained indicated the contribution of pre-folded conformation(s) to the ground state of 1 conducive to exciplex emission. This research provides the initial background for design of self-assembled, DNA-mounted exciplexes and underpins further development of exciplex-based hybridisation bioassays.
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