Oligothiophene/graphene supramolecular ensembles managing light induced processes: preparation, characterization, and femtosecond transient absorption studies leading to charge-separation†
Advances in organic synthetic chemistry combined with the exceptional electronic properties of carbon allotropes, particularly graphene, is the basis used to design and fabricate novel electron donor–acceptor ensembles with desired properties for technological applications. Thiophene-based materials, which are mainly thiophene-containing polymers, are known for their notable electronic properties. In this frame moving from polymer to oligomer forms, new fundamental information would help for a better understanding of their electrochemical and photophysical properties. Furthermore, a successful combination of their electronic properties with those of graphene is a challenging goal. In this study, two oligothiophene compounds, which consist of three and nine thiophene-rings and are abbreviated 3T and 9T, respectively, were synthesized and noncovalently associated with liquid phase exfoliated few-layered graphene sheets (abbreviated eG), thus forming donor–acceptor 3T/eG and 9T/eG nanoensembes. Markedly, intra-ensemble electronic interactions between the two components in the ground and excited states were evaluated with the aid of UV-Vis and photoluminescence spectroscopy. Furthermore, redox assays revealed the one-electron oxidation of 3T accompanied by one-electron reduction due to eG in 3T/eG, whereas there were two reversible one-electron oxidations of 9T accompanied by one-electron reduction of eG9T/eG. The electrochemical band gap for the 3T/eG and 9T/eG ensembles were calculated and verified, in which the negative free-energy change for the charge-separated state of 3T/eG and 9T/eGvia the singlet excited state of 3T and 9T, respectively, were thermodynamically favorable. Finally, the results of transient pump–probe spectroscopy studies at the femtosecond time scale were supportive of charge transfer type interactions in the 3T/eG and 9T/eG ensembles. The estimated rates for intra-ensemble charge separation were found to be 9.52 × 109 s−1 and 2.2 × 1011 s−1, respectively, for 3T/eG and 9T/eG in THF, which reveal moderate to ultrafast photoinduced events in the oligothiophene/graphene supramolecular ensembles.