Visible room-temperature phosphorescence of pure organic crystals via a radical-ion-pair mechanism†
The afterglow of phosphorescent compounds can be distinguished from background fluorescence and scattered light by a time-resolved observation, which is a beneficial property for bioimaging. Phosphorescence emission accompanies spin-forbidden transitions from an excited singlet state through an excited triplet state to a ground singlet state. Since these intersystem crossings are facilitated usually by the heavy-atom effect, metal-free organic solids are seldom phosphorescent, although these solids have recently been refurbished as low-cost, eco-friendly phosphorescent materials. Here, we show that crystalline isophthalic acid exhibits room-temperature phosphorescence with an afterglow that lasts several seconds through a nuclear spin magnetism-assisted spin exchange of a radical ion pair. The obvious afterglow that facilitates a time-resolved detection and the unusual phosphorescence mechanism that enables emission intensification by nuclear spin managements are promising for exploiting the phosphorescence materials in novel applications such as bioimaging.