Difluoroboron β-diketone complexes are versatile light-emitting molecules that exhibit tunable emission in both solution and the solid state. Among this class of dyes, difluoroboron dibenzoylmethane-polylactide (BF2dbmPLA) polymers have been investigated for their molecular weight dependent fluorescence where the polymer chain plays an important role in BF2dbm solid-state emission. Here the substituent effects were further examined with a lipid chain replacing polylactide. Surprising process dependent and reversible mechanochromic fluorescence was discovered for the boron dodecane complex (BF2dbmOC12H25). A thermally annealed spin-cast film of the lipid dye on glass exhibited blue fluorescence under UV light but after shearing or scratching, the mechanically perturbed region turned yellow-green. The blue coloration could be rapidly recovered by thermal treatment of the film. The phenomena were investigated by steady-state fluorescence spectroscopy at room, low, and high temperatures, in situfluorescence microscopy, fluorescence lifetime measurements, and X-ray diffraction. Consistent with previous findings, the ordered-to-amorphous structural change that occurs upon mechanical perturbation may increase molecular rotational freedom, allowing for more efficient excimer emission, which typically occurs at longer wavelengths.
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