Static quenching upon adduct formation: a treatment without shortcuts and approximations
Luminescence quenching is a process exploited in transversal applications in science and technology and it has been studied for a long time. The luminescence quenching mechanisms are typically distinguished in dynamic (collisional) and static, which can require different quantitative treatments. This is particularly important – and finds broad and interdisciplinary application – when the static quenching is caused by the formation of an adduct between the luminophore – at the ground state – and the quencher. Due to its nature, this case should be treated starting from the well-known law of mass action although, in specific conditions, general equations can be conveniently reduced to simpler ones. A proper application of simplified equations, though, can be tricky, with frequent oversimplifications taking to severe errors in the interpretation of the photophysical data. This tutorial review aims to (i) identify the precise working conditions for the application of the simplified equations of static quenching and to (ii) provide general equations for broadest versatility and applicability. The latter equations can be used even beyond the sole case of pure quenching, i.e., in the cases of partial quenching and even luminescence turn-on. Finally, we illustrate different applications of the equations via a critical discussion of examples in the field of sensing, supramolecular chemistry and nanotechnology.