Conjugated polymers that respond to oxidation with increased emission.

TitleConjugated polymers that respond to oxidation with increased emission.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsDane, EL, King, SB, Swager, TM
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Date Publishedjun
KeywordsFluorescence, Hydrogen Peroxide, Hydrogen Peroxide: chemistry, Models, Molecular, Oxidation-Reduction, Photobleaching, Photochemistry, Polymers, Polymers: chemistry

Thioether-containing poly(para-phenylene-ethynylene) (PPE) copolymers show a strong fluorescence turn-on response when exposed to oxidants in solution as a result of the selective conversion of thioether substituents into sulfoxides and sulfones. We propose that the increase in fluorescence quantum yield (Phi(F)) upon oxidation is the result of both an increase in the rate of fluorescence (k(F)), as a result of greater spatial overlap of the frontier molecular orbitals in the oxidized materials, and an increase in the fluorescence lifetime (tau(F)), due to a decrease in the rate of nonradiative decay. Contrary to established literature, the reported sulfoxides do not always act as fluorescence quenchers. The oxidation is accompanied by spectral changes in the absorption and emission of the polymers, which are dramatic when oxidation causes the copolymer to acquire a donor-acceptor interaction. The oxidized polymers have high fluorescence quantum yields in the solid state, with some having increased photostability. A turn-on fluorescence response to hydrogen peroxide in organic solvents in the presence of an oxidation catalyst indicates the potential of thioether-containing materials for oxidant sensing. The reported polymers show promise as new materials in applications where photostability is important, where tunability of emission across the visible spectrum is desired, and where efficient emission is an advantage.