Unusual solvent-dependent photophysical and self-assembly properties of NO2 substituted T-shaped phenazines.

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This paper investigates the importance of substituent placement when designing low-molecular mass π-organogelators. The electron-deficient NO2 substituent was systematically added to novel T-shaped phenazines to examine electronic as well as assembly properties. This T-shaped molecular platform promotes selective electronic tuning, which can be theoretically analyzed by examining the system's frontier molecular orbitals. Electronic properties were characterized by UV-vis spectroscopy and cyclic voltammetry, and comparisons were made based on number and placement of the NO2 group. Computational chemistry (B3LYP/6-31G*) was employed for geometry optimizations, and to generate molecular orbital diagrams for all systems. The most noticeable influence of NO2 position was found for two molecules with four NO2 groups placed at different locations about the molecule (T-34dNT and T-35dNT). A 0.13 eV difference in ELUMO was observed while EHOMO was not significantly impacted by this change only in NO2 placement. Interestingly and unexpectedly, the photophysical properties and solvent-dependent gelation properties were considerably different for T-34dNT and T-35dNT. T-34dNT exhibited a unique fluorescence (FL) solvatochromism, with FL intensity and maxima dependent on solvent polarity. This result is indicative of intramolecular charge transfer. In addition, long tailing at the solid-state absorption of T-34dNT suggests the presence of intermolecular charge transfer. The gelation of T-34dNT produced chromism ranging from red to orange to yellow when the solvents changed from acetonitrile to ethyl acetate to cyclohexane, respectively. T-35dNT gels in these solvents did not exhibit any of the same properties. Xerogel morphology characterizations were carried out using three different solvents for both T-34dNTand T-35dNT. In the case of T-34dNT, striking differences in the morphology were detected by field-emission scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM). We conclude that numbers of substituents are not the only consideration in effective molecular design for organogelators, but that substituent position plays a critical role in certain fundamental properties of these systems.