Hyperbranched conjugated poly(tetraphenylethene): synthesis, aggregation-induced emission, fluorescent photopatterning, optical limiting and explosive detection†
Tetraphenylethene-containing diyne (1), named 1,2-bis(4-ethynylphenyl)-1,2-diphenylethene, was synthesized and polymerized by TaBr5 catalyst, affording the hyperbranched polymer hb-P1 with a high molecular weight (Mw up to 157 800) in a nearly quantitative yield. The cyclotrimerization of 1-(4-ethynylphenyl)-1,2,2-triphenylethene was also carried out to give 1,3,5- and 1,2,4-tris[4-(1,2,2-triphenylvinyl)phenyl]benzene (1,3,5-2 and 1,2,4-2) that served as model compounds for structural characterization and properties investigation. The structures of hb-P1 and 2 are characterized by MS, IR, and NMR spectroscopies with satisfactory results. All the molecules and polymer are completely soluble in common organic solvents such as chloroform, toluene and THF. They show high thermal stability with degradation temperatures up to 443 and 446 °C, respectively, in nitrogen and air. Whereas their solutions are almost non-emissive or weakly fluorescent, their aggregates in poor solvents and solid powders emit intensely with fluorescence quantum yields up to 81%, demonstrating a novel phenomenon of aggregation-induced or enhanced emission. The unreacted triple bonds on the periphery of hb-P1 allow its thin film to cross-link under UV irradiation, generating well-resolved photopatterns. The hyperbranched polymer can limit harsh laser pulses. Its emission can be quenched efficiently by picric acid in solution and aggregated states with large quenching constants, suggesting that it is a promising fluorescent chemosensor for explosives detection.