Title: Communication of molecular fluorophores with other photoluminescence centres in carbon dots
Authors: Michal Langer, Lukáš Zdražil, Miroslav Medveď and Michal Otyepka
Working Group: WG3
Grant Period Goal (number): GAPG-4
Covered deliverables from the MoU (number): 5
Countries involved: Slovakia, Czech Republic
Number of female/young/ITC coauthors: 0/2/4
Abstract: The establishment of structure-photoluminescence (PL) relationships remains an ultimate challenge in the field of carbon dots (CDs). It is now commonly understood that various structural domains may evolve during the preparation of CDs; nonetheless, we are still far from capturing the specific features that determine the overall PL of CDs. Although the core, surface and molecular states are usually considered the three main sources of PL, it is not known to which extent they interact and/or affect one another.
Expectedly, the communication between the different PL centres depends on the mutual arrangement and the type of linking. To gain insights into such a communication, time-dependent density functional theory (TD-DFT) calculations were performed for several (N-doped/O-functionalized) polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as representative models for the core/surfaces PL states and the prototypical molecular fluorophore (MF) 5-oxo-1,2,3,5-tetrahydroimidazo-[1,2-α]-pyridine-7-carboxylic acid (IPCA), considering different interaction modes, namely hydrogen bonded and stacked complexes as well as covalently bonded and fused structures. Our results revealed that each of the studied arrangements in some way supported the communication between the PL centres. The deactivation pathways typically involve multiple charge and energy transfer events that can promote the formation of charge separated states and/or lead to the activation of other PL centres in CDs. Depending on the arrangement, the doping
pattern and surface functionalization, both the CD core and the MF can act as an electron donor or acceptor, which could help to design CDs with desirable hole–electron surface/core characteristics.