Probing the orientation of porphyrin oligomers in a liquid crystal solvent – a triplet state electron paramagnetic resonance study


Linear porphyrin oligomers have found various applications as synthetic molecular wires in the context of light harvesting, solar energy conversion and molecular electronics. In many of these applications a partial ordering of the molecules helps to improve the reaction efficiency or device performance. In this work we study the orientational properties of the building blocks of such porphyrin-based molecular wires, namely a porphyrin monomer and the corresponding butadiyne-bridged dimer. The porphyrins have been embedded in the nematic liquid crystal solvent 4-cyano-4’-pentylbiphenyl (5CB) and the anisotropic properties of their photogenerated triplet states were characterised by transient electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. When aligned in strong magnetic fields, the liquid crystal molecules impose their orientational anisotropy onto the solute guest molecules whose orientation-dependent magnetic properties can then be explored. The line shape analysis of the porphyrin triplet state EPR spectra – highly sensitive to small conformational changes – confirms the orientation of the zero-field-splitting (ZFS) tensors previously determined for these molecules by magnetophotoselection experiments. A biaxial distribution function is shown to be necessary to simulate the experimental EPR data. The biaxial behaviour, in conjunction with symmetry considerations, allows an unambiguous assignment of the three ZFS tensor axes to the molecular axes. From the determined orientational distributions of the porphyrins in 5CB, the biaxial order parameters for both molecules were calculated.

Molecular Physics