Coulomb interactions for mediator-enhanced sensitized triplet–triplet annihilation upconversion in solution†
Sensitized triplet–triplet annihilation upconversion offers an attractive possibility to replace a high-energy photon by two photons with lower energy through the combination of a light-harvesting triplet sensitizer and an annihilator for the formation of a fluorescent singlet state. Typically, high annihilator concentrations are required to achieve an efficient initial energy transfer and as a direct consequence the most highly energetic emission is often not detectable due to intrinsic reabsorption by the annihilator itself. Herein, we demonstrate that the addition of a charge-adapted mediator drastically improves the energy transfer efficiency at low annihilator concentrations via an energy transfer cascade. Inspired by molecular dyads and recent developments in nanocrystal-sensitized upconversion, our system exploits a concept to minimize intrinsic filter effects, while boosting the upconversion quantum yield in solution. A sensitizer-annihilator combination consisting of a ruthenium-based complex and 9,10-diphenylanthracene (DPA) is explored as model system and a sulfonated pyrene serves as mediator. The impact of opposite charges between sensitizer and mediator – to induce coulombic attraction and subsequently result in accelerated energy transfer rate constants – is analyzed in detail by different spectroscopic methods. Ion pairing and the resulting static energy transfer in both directions is a minor process, resulting in an improved overall performance. Finally, the more intense upconverted emission in the presence of the mediator is used to drive two catalytic photoreactions in a two-chamber setup, illustrating the advantages of our approach, in particular for photoreactions requiring oxygen that would interfere with the upconversion system.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Nanoscale 2024 Emerging Investigators