Testing the TICT State Hypothesis: an Investigation into the Solvatochromic Behavior of 2-Naphthalenylmethylene Malononitrile

Date of Thesis

Spring 5-2012

Thesis Type

Masters Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)



First Advisor

Brian W. Williams


Towards the goal of investigating the possible Twisted Intramolecular Charge Transfer (TICT) state mechanism of fluorescence emission, two aromatic dicyanovinyl compounds, 2-(naphthalene-2-ylmethylene) malononitrile (DCN) and a rigidified analogue, 3,4-dihydrophenanthren-1(2H)-ylidene)malononitrile (RDCN) were synthesized and their absorption and steady-state fluorescence emission spectra characterized. The spectral characterization was divided into two studies: first, DCN and RDCN were characterized in liquid solvents of increasing polarity; second, DCN and RDCN were characterized in viscous solvents and rigid glass media. The absorption spectra for both DCN and RDCN in all solvents demonstrated little to no solvatochromism. Emission results for DCN and RDCN in liquid solvents of increasing polarity showed DCN possessing strong solvatochromism while RDCN showed much less solvatochromism. Using the Lippert-Mataga equation, the difference between the ground and excited state dipole moment for DCN was estimated to be 8.4 + 0.4 Debye and between ~3.0 to 5.0 Debye for RDCN. Quantum yield measurements for DCN and RDCN in hexane, diethyl ether and acetonitrile were less than 0.01 and independent of polarity for both both solvents, with DCN generally possessing a quantum yield 3-4 times greater than RDCN. Experiments in glass media for DCN and RDCN showed a lessening of their solvatochromic character in both polar and non-polar glasses. These data provide strong evidence for a link between molecular flexibility and solvatochromism. However, while these data are consistent with a TICT state hypothesis for the emission mechanism, an alternative mechanism proposed by Maroncelli et al.10 involving rotation about the dicyanovinyl double bond in the excited state remains a possibility as well.

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