We report how the nanoconfined environment, introduced by the mechanical bonds within an electrochemically switchable bistable rotaxane, controls the rotation of a fluorescent molecular rotor, namely, an 8-phenyl-substituted boron dipyrromethene (BODIPY). The electrochemical switching of the bistable rotaxane induces changes in the ground-state coconformation and in the corresponding excited-state properties of the BODIPY rotor. In the starting redox state, when no external potential is applied, the cyclobis(paraquat-p-phenylene) (CBPQT4+) ring component encircles the tetrathiafulvalene (TTF) unit on the dumbbell component, leaving the BODIPY rotor unhindered and exhibiting low fluorescence. Upon oxidation of the TTF unit to a TTF2+ dication, the CBPQT4+ ring is forced toward the molecular rotor, leading to an increased energy barrier for the excited state to rotate the rotor into the state with a high nonradiative rate constant, resulting in an overall 3.4-fold fluorescence enhancement. On the other hand, when the solvent polarity is high enough to stabilize the excited charge-transfer state between the BODIPY rotor and the CBPQT4+ ring, movement of the ring toward the BODIPY rotor produces an unexpectedly strong fluorescence signal decrease as the result of photoinduced electron transfer from the BODIPY rotor to the CBPQT4+ ring. The nanoconfinement effect introduced by mechanical bonding can effectively lead to modulation of the physicochemical properties as observed in this bistable rotaxane. On account of the straightforward synthetic strategy and the facile modulation of switchable electrochromic behavior, our approach could pave the way for the development of new stimuli-responsive materials based on mechanically interlocked molecules for future electro-optical applications, such as sensors, molecular memories, and molecular logic gates.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry