Effects of Intermolecular Coupling on Excimer Formation and Singlet Fission

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The development of organic photovoltaic devices benefits from understanding the fundamental processes underlying charge generation in thin films of organic semiconductors. This dissertation exploits model systems of π-stacked chromophores such as perylene-3,4:9,10-bis(dicarboximide) (PDI) and 3,6-bis(aryl)diketopyrrolopyrrole (DPP) to study these processes using ultrafast electronic and vibrational spectroscopy. In particular, the characterization of covalent molecular dimers, thin films, and solution aggregates can reveal how supramolecular order affects photophysical properties. PDI and DPP are organic semiconductors that have been widely studied in organic photovoltaics, due to their strong visible absorption and excellent chemical stability. As solution-phase monomers, they are highly fluorescent, but in the thin film environment of photovoltaic devices these planar aromatic molecules couple to one another, stacking largely through π-π interactions. In self-assembled stacks of PDI, strong interchromophore coupling may disrupt charge separation through the formation of excimer states, preventing the generation of free carriers. By studying molecular dimers of PDI with different π-stacking geometry, femtosecond visible pump mid-infrared probe spectroscopy allows direct observation of the structural dynamics associated with excimer state relaxation, showing that this low-energy state is primarily coupled to the core modes that shift as planarization and rotation lead to the most stable excimer geometry. PDI is also able to undergo singlet fission in thin films and aggregates. Singlet fission is the process in which a singlet excited state is downconverted into two triplet excitons, when the energy of its first singlet excited state is at least twice the energy of the lowest triplet state in an appropriately coupled molecular system. This spin-allowed, ultrafast process enables a theoretical yield of two charge carriers per incident photon, making it a compelling strategy for improving organic photovoltaic device efficiencies. The formation of triplet states through singlet fission can be characterized using femtosecond visible transient absorption spectroscopy (fsTA). However, in PDI, the triplet-triplet absorption spectrum is strongly overlapped with the ground state bleach absorption. Here, a dyad molecule where PDI is covalently attached to an apocarotene triplet acceptor is synthesized, and studied in solution aggregates and thin films with fsTA, to demonstrate that apocarotene can be used as a sensitive spectral tag for triplet formation in PDI due to triplet-triplet energy transfer from PDI to the carotenoid. The efficiency of singlet fission in DPP can be tuned by modulating the crystal packing in the solid state. By synthesizing 3,6-bis(thiophene) derivatives of DPP with a series of different sidechains, thin film DPP singlet fission is related to the crystal structure intermolecular geometries, to more precisely determine the relationship between interchromophore coupling and singlet fission rate, which will inform the design of more robust chromophores for singlet fission. Finally, the role of the dielectric environment and stabilization of charge transfer configurations and charge transfer states is explored in DPP singlet fission, through aqueous nanoparticles of 3,6-bis(phenylthiophene) with different surface area-to-volume ratios, and a covalently linked dimer of DPP in solvents of varying polarity which can undergo symmetry-breaking charge separation.

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  • 01/09/2019
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