Manipulating exciton dynamics of thermally activated delayed fluorescence materials for tuning two-photon nanotheranostics†
Rational manipulation of energy utilization from excited-state radiation of theranostic agents with a donor–acceptor structure is relatively unexplored. Herein, we present an effective strategy to tune the exciton dynamics of radiative excited state decay for augmenting two-photon nanotheranostics. As a proof of concept, two thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) molecules with different electron-donating segments are engineered, which possess donor–acceptor structures and strong emissions in the deep-red region with aggregation-induced emission characteristics. Molecular simulations demonstrate that change of the electron-donating sections could effectively regulate the singlet–triplet energy gap and oscillator strength, which promises efficient energy flow. A two-photon laser with great permeability is used to excite TADF NPs to perform as theranostic agents with singlet oxygen generation and fluorescence imaging. These unique performances enable the proposed TADF emitters to exhibit tailored balances between two-photon singlet oxygen generation and fluorescence emission. This result demonstrates that TADF emitters can be rationally designed as superior candidates for nanotheranostic agents by the custom controlling exciton dynamics.