Date of Thesis



Solvatochromism and thermochromism describe how a solvent or environment affects the photophysical behavior of a photoluminescent solute. The most common use of solvatochromism is as a probe in which the polarity of a solvent in which a solvatochromic solute is dissolved can be spectroscopically measured. Solvatochromic and thermochromic studies of tryptanthrin in several different solvents are reported. Absorption and corrected emission spectra for tryptanthrin at ~10-6 M concentrations are reported in four aprotic and nine alcoholic solvents. The absorption spectra are relatively unaffected by changes in solvent polarity and by differences in the hydrogen bonding ability of the alcoholic solvents. The emission spectra are much more affected by changes in solvent polarity and hydrogen bonding ability. In aprotic solvents, emission energy decreases and emission intensity increases with increasing solvent polarity. In the alcoholic solvents, emission energy also decreases with increasing solvent polarity. However, emission intensity for the alcoholic solvents varies significantly from the aprotic solvents over similar polarity ranges. This suggests that in the alcoholic solvents, hydrogen bonding ability correlates better than polarity to emission energy and intensity trends. The absorption and emission data in the aprotic solvents were also used to estimate the ground and emitting excited state dipole moments for tryptanthrin. The value obtained for the ground state dipole moment (2.37 D) agrees with theoretical results (2.06 D) and a previously reported experimental value (2.0 D). Attempts to explain previously reported results and conclusions with respect to the solvatochromic behavior of the aromatic carbonyls fluorenone and benzo(b)fluorenone were explored in an attempt to understand the solvatochromic response of tryptanthrin. Such attempts include models dependent on non-radiative decay pathways like intersystem crossing, internal conversion, and hydrogen bonding interactions.


photophysical chemistry, solvatochromism, tryptanthrin

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Brian Williams

Second Advisor

David Rovnyak

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Marin