Using the density-functional vertical self-consistent reaction field (VSCRF) solvation model, incorporated with the conductor-like screening model (COSMO) and the self-consistent reaction field (SCRF) methods, we have studied the solvatochromic shifts of both the absorption and emission bands of four solvent-sensitive dyes in different solutions. The dye molecules studied here are: S-TBA merocyanine, Abdel-Halim's merocyanine, the rigidified aminocoumarin C153, and Nile red. These dyes were selected because they exemplify different structural features likely to impact the solvent-sensitive fluorescence of “push-pull”, or merocyanine, fluorophores. All trends of the blue or red shifts were correctly predicted, comparing with the experimental observations. Explicit H-bonding interactions were also considered in several protic solutions like H2O, methanol and ethanol, showing that including explicit H-bonding solvent molecule(s) in the calculations is important to obtain the correct order of the excitation and emission energies. The geometries, electronic structures, dipole moments, and intra- and intermolecular charge transfers of the dyes in different solvents are also discussed.
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