Crossover from Single-Step Tunneling to Multistep Hopping for Molecular Triplet Energy Transfer

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Science  18 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5985, pp. 1547-1550
DOI: 10.1126/science.1189354

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Tracking Triplet-State Transfers

In devices such as organic transistors and photovoltaic cells, energy flow from donor to acceptor sites can occur via electrons that have been excited into higher electronic levels, which create a triplet state with two unpaired spins. At short distances between donor and acceptor, the transfer occurs through direct tunneling, but at longer distances, the electron “hops” in a multistep process. Vura-Weis et al. (p. 1547) used femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy to observe this crossover in transfer mechanism directly in a series of molecules with varying bridge lengths between the donor and acceptor.


Triplet energy transfer (TT), a key process in molecular and organic electronics, generally occurs by either strongly distance-dependent single-step tunneling or weakly distance-dependent multistep hopping. We have synthesized a series of π-stacked molecules consisting of a benzophenone donor, one to three fluorene bridges, and a naphthalene acceptor, and studied the rate of TT from benzophenone to naphthalene across the fluorene bridge using femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy. We show that the dominant TT mechanism switches from tunneling to wire-like hopping between bridge lengths 1 and 2. The crossover observed for TT can be determined by direct observation of the bridge-occupied state.

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