All-optical manipulation of singlet exciton transport in individual supramolecular nanostructures by triplet gating†
Directed transport of singlet excitation energy is a key process in natural light-harvesting systems and a desired feature in assemblies of functional organic molecules for organic electronics and nanotechnology applications. However, progress in this direction is hampered by the lack of concepts and model systems. Here we demonstrate an all-optical approach to manipulate singlet exciton transport pathways within supramolecular nanostructures via singlet–triplet annihilation, i.e., to enforce an effective motion of singlet excitons along a predefined direction. For this proof-of-concept, we locally photo-generate a long-lived triplet exciton population and subsequently a singlet exciton population on single bundles of H-type supramolecular nanofibres using two temporally and spatially separated laser pulses. The local triplet exciton population operates as a gate for the singlet exciton transport since singlet–triplet annihilation hinders singlet exciton motion across the triplet population. We visualize this manipulation of singlet exciton transport via the fluorescence signal from the singlet excitons, using a detection-beam scanning approach combined with time-correlated single-photon counting. Our reversible, all-optical manipulation of singlet exciton transport can pave the way to realising new design principles for functional photonic nanodevices.