Symmetry breaking in cationic polymethine dyes, part 1: Ground state potential energy surfaces and solvent effects on electronic spectra of streptocyanines

Authors

  • Tzvetelin D. Iordanov,

    1. Department of Chemistry, Georgia Southwestern State University, 800 Wheatley Street, Americus, GA 31709
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  • Jesse L. Davis,

    1. Department of Chemistry, Georgia Southwestern State University, 800 Wheatley Street, Americus, GA 31709
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  • Artëm E. Masunov,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemistry, NanoScience Technology Center, University of Central Florida, 12424 Research Parkway, Ste 400, Orlando, FL 32826
    2. Department of Physics, NanoScience Technology Center, University of Central Florida, 12424 Research Parkway, Ste 400, Orlando, FL 32826
    • Department of Chemistry, NanoScience Technology Center, University of Central Florida, 12424 Research Parkway, Ste 400, Orlando, FL 32826
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  • Andrew Levenson,

    1. Department of Chemistry, NanoScience Technology Center, University of Central Florida, 12424 Research Parkway, Ste 400, Orlando, FL 32826
    2. Department of Physics, NanoScience Technology Center, University of Central Florida, 12424 Research Parkway, Ste 400, Orlando, FL 32826
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  • Olga V. Przhonska,

    1. Institute of Physics, National Academy of Sciences, Prospect Nauki 46, Kiev, 03028, Ukraine
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  • Alexei D. Kachkovski

    1. Institute of Organic Chemistry, National Academy of Sciences, Murmanskaya 5, Kiev 03094, Ukraine
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Abstract

Charge localization and dynamics in conjugated organic molecules, as well as their spectral signatures are of great importance for photonic and photovoltaic applications. Intramolecular charge delocalization in polymethine dyes occurs through π-conjugated bridges and contributes to the appearance of low-energy excited states that strongly influence their linear and nonlinear optical (NLO) properties. When the chain length in symmetrical cations exceeds the characteristic size of the soliton, the positive charge may localize at one of the terminal groups of the molecule and induce symmetry breaking of both the electron density distribution and molecular geometry. This charge localization is coupled with molecular vibrations and solvent effects. We investigated the mechanism of symmetry breaking in a series of cationic streptocyanines with different conjugated chain length and qualitatively predicted their electronic absorption spectra. This class of organic molecules is chosen as a model system to develop methodology which can subsequently be used to evaluate more complicated compounds for NLO applications. Our calculations show that the minimum number of vinylene groups in the conjugated chain necessary to break the symmetry of streptocyanines is eight in the gas phase and six in cyclohexane. We constructed the ground state potential energy surface (PES) in two dimensions using symmetry breaking and symmetry adapted coordinates. These were defined as the difference and the sum of the two central carbon–carbon bonds, respectively. This PES was found to have two equivalent minima for systems with symmetry breaking. The energy barrier between these two minima was estimated in the gas phase and in solution, which was taken into account by the polarizable continuum model. Charge localization in each minimum was found to be asymmetric. It is additionally stabilized by the solvent reaction field, which increases the energy barrier. The electronic absorption spectrum in solution is red shifted as compared to the gas phase. As the symmetry breaks, additional excited states with large oscillator strengths appear in the electronic spectrum. Geometry optimization and spectral predictions were also performed in a uniform external electric field in order to simulate nonequilibrium solvation effects due to the finite relaxation time of solvent molecules. Two asymmetric minima with different depths appear on the resulting PES. The lower minimum has charge localized at one of the two molecular terminal groups which is additionally stabilized by the solvent field, while the higher one has charge localized on another terminal group. This finding demonstrates the possibility that two forms with different charge distributions coexist in polar solvents. Our results suggest that nonequilibrium solvation may be a cause of absorption band broadening and splitting. This work is a first step in a larger study aimed at the analysis of the linear and nonlinear properties of long π-conjugated systems of interest for NLO applications and plastic photovoltaics. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Quantum Chem, 2009

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