Two-photon absorption in cruciform and dipolar chromophores: excitonic interactions and response to metal ions
Siegel, Nisan Naftali
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Structure-property relationships for two-photon absorption (2PA) in branched organic chromophores is a topic of current interest, as is the design of chromophores with advantageous properties for two-photon laser scanning microscopy (2PLSM). The main goals of this dissertation were to study and explain the one-photon absorption (1PA) and 2PA properties of cruciform chromophores based on 1,4-distyryl-2,5-bis(phenylethynyl)benzene with varying electron donor (D) and acceptor (A) groups, and to characterize the 2PLSM-relevant response of some of these chromophores and a set of dipolar chromophores to binding with zinc ions. The compounds were studied by 1PA, fluorescence and 2PA spectroscopy. A ππ* exciton model was developed to explain the spectral properties of the 1,4-distyryl-2,5-bis(phenylethynyl)benzene cruciform with no D or A groups or with four identical D groups at the termini of the linear arms of the chromophore. This model indicated that there is some coupling and mixing of the lowest excited states e of the linear arms, leading to splitting of the 1PA spectrum of the cruciform. There was little coupling or mixing of the higher excited states e′ accessed in 2PA, leading to a two-band 2PA spectrum for the chromophore, in contrast to cruciform compounds in the literature with identical conjugated arms, which have one visible 2PA band. For cruciforms with D groups on the styryl arm and A character on the terminal phenyls of the phenylethynyl arms (D/A cruciforms), the ππ* exciton model was complemented with a charge-transfer (CT) exciton model describing interactions of charge-transfer pathways between the D and A groups. This model explained the broadness of the 1PA band of D/A cruciforms as well as the two 2PA bands observed for these chromophores. The fluorescence and 2PA spectral responses to binding of Zn²⁺ ions to the D or A groups of some cruciform compounds were also assessed, to provide insight into the design of new analyte-sensing cruciforms for 2PLSM that take advantage of enhancement or reduction of D/A character upon analyte binding. It was found that canceling charge donation from the D groups in differing D/A cruciforms resulted in fluorescence and 2PA spectra nearly indistinguishable from each other, suggesting that turn-off of D groups is not an optimal modality of 2PLSM analyte sensing in cruciforms. Binding Zn²⁺ to A groups was shown to result in an increase in the D/A character of the cruciform, with fluorescence peak energies that changed depending on the location of the A group. It is suggested that the use of non-binding donors and analyte-binding A groups in differing patterns on the arms could be a valuable design motif to achieve 2PLSM sensor compounds based on this cruciform structure. The 2PA spectra of a set of dipolar Zn²⁺ sensing dyes designed for ratiometric imaging in 2PLSM were also studied. These dyes had moderate 2PA strength, with redshifts of fluorescence 2PA spectra on Zn²⁺ binding. The isosbestic point of 2PA of most chromophores was within the range of 2PLSM excitation sources commonly used, rendering these dyes good candidates for use in ratiometric sensing in 2PLSM.