Energy Transfer Between Squaraine Polymer Sections: From helix to zig-zag and All the Way Back
(2015)

Joint experimental and theoretical study of the absorption spectra of squaraine polymers in solution provide evidence that two different conformations are present in solution: a helix and a zig-zag structure. This unique situation allows investigating ultrafast energy transfer processes between different structural segments within a single polymer chain in solution. The understanding of the underlying dynamics is of fundamental importance for the development of novel materials for light-harvesting and optoelectronic applications. We combine here femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy with time-resolved 2D electronic spectroscopy showing that ultrafast energy transfer within the squaraine polymer chains proceeds from initially excited helix segments to zig-zag segments or vice versa, depending on the solvent as well as on the excitation wavenumber. These observations contrast other conjugated polymers such as MEH-PPV where much slower intrachain energy transfer was reported. The reason for the very fast energy transfer in squaraine polymers is most likely a close matching of the density of states between donor and acceptor polymer segments because of very small reorganization energy in these cyanine-like chromophores.

The origin of the solvent dependence of fluorescence quantum yields in dipolar merocyanine dyes
(2019)

Fluorophores with high quantum yields are desired for a variety of applications. Optimization of promising chromophores requires an understanding of the non-radiative decay channels that compete with the emission of photons. We synthesized a new derivative of the famous laser dye 4-dicyanomethylen-2-methyl-6-p-dimethylaminostyryl-4H-pyran (DCM),i.e., merocyanine 4-(dicyanomethylene)-2-tert-butyl-6-[3-(3-butyl-benzothiazol-2-ylidene)1-propenyl]-4H-pyran (DCBT). We measured fluorescence lifetimes and quantum yields in a variety of solvents and found a trend opposite to the energy gap law.This motivated a theoretical investigation into the possible non-radiative decay channels. We propose that a barrier to a conical intersection exists that is very sensitive to the solvent polarity. The conical intersection is characterized by a twisted geometry which allows a subsequent photoisomerization. Transient absorption measurements confirmed the formation of a photoisomer in unpolar solvents, while the measurements of fluorescence quantum yields at low temperature demonstrated the existence of an activation energy barrier.

The mechanism of excimer formation: an experimental and theoretical study on the pyrene dimer
(2017)

The understanding of excimer formation in organic materials is of fundamental importance, since excimers profoundly influence their functional performance in applications such as light-harvesting, photovoltaics or organic electronics. We present a joint experimental and theoretical study of the ultrafast dynamics of excimer formation in the pyrene dimer in a supersonic jet, which is the archetype of an excimer forming system. We perform simulations of the nonadiabatic photodynamics in the frame of TDDFT that reveal two distinct excimer formation pathways in the gas-phase dimer. The first pathway involves local excited state relaxation close to the initial Franck–Condon geometry that is characterized by a strong excitation of the stacking coordinate exhibiting damped oscillations with a period of 350 fs that persist for several picoseconds. The second excimer forming pathway involves large amplitude oscillations along the parallel shift coordinate with a period of ≈900 fs that after intramolecular vibrational energy redistribution leads to the formation of a perfectly stacked dimer. The electronic relaxation within the excitonic manifold is mediated by the presence of intermolecular conical intersections formed between fully delocalized excitonic states. Such conical intersections may generally arise in stacked π-conjugated aggregates due to the interplay between the long-range and short-range electronic coupling. The simulations are supported by picosecond photoionization experiments in a supersonic jet that provide a time-constant for the excimer formation of around 6–7 ps, in good agreement with theory. Finally, in order to explore how the crystal environment influences the excimer formation dynamics we perform large scale QM/MM nonadiabatic dynamics simulations on a pyrene crystal in the framework of the long-range corrected tight-binding TDDFT. In contrast to the isolated dimer, the excimer formation in the crystal follows a single reaction pathway in which the initially excited parallel slip motion is strongly damped by the interaction with the surrounding molecules leading to the slow excimer stabilization on a picosecond time scale.

The mechanism of excimer formation: an experimental and theoretical study on the pyrene dimer
(2017)

We present a joint experimental and computational study of the nonradiative deactivation of the benzyl radical, C\(_7\)H\(_7\) after UV excitation. Femtosecond time-resolved photoelectron imaging was applied to investigate the photodynamics of the radical. The experiments were accompanied by excited state dynamics simulations using surface hopping. Benzyl has been excited at 265 nm into the D-band (\(\pi\pi^*\)) and the dynamics was probed using probe wavelengths of 398 nm or 798 nm. With 398 nm probe a single time constant of around 70-80 fs was observed. When the dynamics was probed at 798 nm, a second time constant \(\tau_2\)=1.5 ps was visible. It is assigned to further non-radiative deactivation to the lower-lying D\(_1\)/D\(_2\) states.

Comparison of moving and fixed basis sets for nonadiabatic quantum dynamics at conical intersections
(2020)

We assess the performance of two different types of basis sets for nonadiabatic quantum dynamics at conical intersections. The basis sets of both types are generated using Ehrenfest trajectories of nuclear coherent states. These trajectories can either serve as a moving (time-dependent) basis or be employed to sample a fixed (time-independent) basis. We demonstrate on the example of two-state two-dimensional and three-state five-dimensional models that both basis set types can yield highly accurate results for population transfer at intersections, as compared with reference quantum dynamics. The details of wave packet evolutions are discussed for the case of the two-dimensional model. The fixed basis is found to be superior to the moving one in reproducing nonlocal spreading and maintaining correct shape of the wave packet upon time evolution. Moreover, for the models considered, the fixed basis set outperforms the moving one in terms of computational efficiency.

Comparison of moving and fixed basis sets for nonadiabatic quantum dynamics at conical intersections
(2020)

We assess the performance of two different types of basis sets for nonadiabatic quantum dynamics at conical intersections. The basis sets of both types are generated using Ehrenfest trajectories of nuclear coherent states. These trajectories can either serve as a moving (time-dependent) basis or be employed to sample a fixed (time-independent) basis. We demonstrate on the example of two-state two-dimensional and three-state five-dimensional models that both basis set types can yield highly accurate results for population transfer at intersections, as compared with reference quantum dynamics. The details of wave packet evolutions are discussed for the case of the two-dimensional model. The fixed basis is found to be superior to the moving one in reproducing true nonlocal spreading and maintaining correct shape of the wave packet upon time evolution. Moreover, for the models considered, the fixed basis set outperforms the moving one in terms of computational efficiency.

Excitons in the molecular aggregates of chromophores are key participants in important processes such as photosynthesis or the functioning of organic photovoltaic devices. Therefore, the exploration of exciton dynamics is crucial. Here we report on exciton localization during excited-state dynamics of the recently synthesized tetracene trimer [Liu et al., Org. Lett., 2017, 19, 580]. We employ the surface hopping approach to nonadiabatic molecular dynamics in conjunction with the long-range corrected time-dependent density functional tight binding (LC-TDDFTB) method [Humeniuk and Mitrić, Comput. Phys. Commun., 2017, 221, 174]. Utilizing a set of descriptors based on the transition density matrix, we perform comprehensive analysis of exciton dynamics. The obtained results reveal an ultrafast exciton localization to a single tetracene unit of the trimer during excited-state dynamics, along with exciton transfer between units.

For the rational design of new fluorophores, reliable predictions of fluorescence quantum yields from first principles would be of great help. However, efficient computational approaches for predicting transition rates usually assume that the vibrational structure is harmonic. While the harmonic approximation has been used successfully to predict vibrationally resolved spectra and radiative rates, its reliability for non-radiative rates is much more questionable. Since non-adiabatic transitions convert large amounts of electronic energy into vibrational energy, the highly excited final vibrational states deviate greatly from harmonic oscillator eigenfunctions. We employ a time-dependent formalism to compute radiative and non-radiative rates for transitions and study the dependence on model parameters. For several coumarin dyes we compare different adiabatic and vertical harmonic models (AS, ASF, AH, VG, VGF, VH), in order to dissect the
importance of displacements, frequency changes and Duschinsky rotations. In addition we analyze the effect of different broadening functions (Gaussian, Lorentzian or Voigt). Moreover, to assess the qualitative influence of anharmonicity on the internal conversion rate, we develop a simplified anharmonic model. We adress the reliability of these models considering the potential errors introduced by the harmonic approximation and the phenomenological width of the broadening function.