Modular synthesis, host–guest complexation and solvation-controlled relaxation of nanohoops with donor–acceptor structures†
Carbon nanohoops with donor–acceptor (D–A) structures are attractive electronic materials and biological fluorophores, but their synthesis is usually challenging. Moreover, the preparation of D–A nanohoop fluorophores exhibiting high fluorescence quantum yields beyond 500 nm remains a key challenge. This study presents a modular synthetic approach based on an efficient metal-free cyclocondensation reaction that readily produced nine congeners with D–A or donor–acceptor–donor′ (D–A–D′) structures, one of which is water-soluble. The tailored molecular design of nanohoops enabled a systematic and detailed study of their host–guest complexation with fullerene, optical properties, and charge transfer (CT) dynamics using X-ray crystallography, fluorescence titration, steady and ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy, and theoretical calculations. The findings revealed intriguing physical properties associated with D–A motifs, such as tight binding with fullerene, moderate fluorescence quantum yields (37–67%) beyond 540 nm, and unique solvation-controlled CT relaxation of D–A–D′ nanohoops, where two CT states (D–A and A–D′) can be effectively tuned by solvation, resulting in dramatically changed relaxation pathways in different solvents.
- This article is part of the themed collection: In celebration of Chinese New Year