Self-Assembly of Linear Porphyrin Oligomers into Well-Defined Aggregates
Magazine article, 2012
Conjugated zinc porphyrin oligomers of various lengths are shown to form well-defined planar aggregates at low temperatures. The aggregation occurs over a narrow temperature interval (170-150 K) and is accompanied by dramatic changes in the electronic absorption and emission spectra. Similar changes are found in J-aggregates in which the transition dipole moments of aggregated chromophores couple to form a new and intense transition in the absorption spectrum, red shifted from the monomeric chromophore band. For the present porphyrin oligomers, the dramatic absorption changes are not associated with the formation of large aggregates, but rather with the dimerization accompanied by planarization of the oligomers. Free oligomers have a broad distribution of porphyrin porphyrin dihedral angles and show a broad and unstructured absorption spectrum. As the oligomers stack to form aggregates, they planarize and the width of the conformational distribution is reduced to include virtually only the planar conformers, resulting in the observed change of the absorption spectrum. No experimental evidence for the formation of large aggregates was found, while a small aggregate, probably only dimer, is supported by the minor changes of the fluorescence rate constant upon aggregation and the fact that pyridine has no significant effect on the formation of this aggregate, which otherwise is very effective for inhibiting aggregation of zinc porphyrin oligomers. Compared to most porphyrin aggregates, which show broad absorption spectra and quenched fluorescence, these aggregates give sharp absorption and emission spectra with little change in the fluorescence quantum yield. Similar aggregates were also observed for oligomers substituted with both a fullerene electron acceptor and a ferrocene donor. The results presented here will be potentially useful as tools to understand how electron transfer and delocalization processes are influenced by molecular order/disorder transitions.