Fluorescent supramolecular polymers of barbiturate dyes with thiophene-cored twisted π-systems†
Because supramolecular polymerization of emissive π-conjugated molecules depends strongly on π–π stacking interaction, the formation of well-defined one-dimensional nanostructures often results in a decrease or only a small increase of emission efficiency. This is also true for our barbiturate-based supramolecular polymers wherein hydrogen-bonded rosettes of barbiturates stack quasi-one-dimensionally through π–π stacking interaction. Herein we report supramolecular polymerization-induced emission of two regioisomeric 2,3-diphenylthiophene derivatives functionalized with barbituric acid and tri(dodecyloxy)benzyl wedge units. In CHCl3, both compounds are molecularly dissolved and accordingly poorly emissive due to a torsion-induced non-radiative decay. In methylcyclohexane-rich conditions, these barbiturates self-assemble to form crystalline nanofibers and exhibit strongly enhanced emission through supramolecular polymerization driven by hydrogen-bonding. Our structural analysis suggests that the barbiturates form a tape-like hydrogen-bonding motif, which is rationalized by considering that the twisted geometries of 2,3-diphenylthiophene cores prevend the competing rosettes from stacking into columnar supramolecular polymers. We also found that a small difference in the molecular polarity originating from the substitutional position of the thiophene core influences interchain association of the supramolecular polymers, affording different luminescent soft materials, gel and nanosheet.
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