Intermolecular charge transport through π-conjugated molecules plays an essential role in biochemical redox processes and energy storage applications. In this work, we observe highly efficient intermolecular charge transport upon dimerization of pyridinium molecules in the cavity of a synthetic host (cucurbituril, CB). Stable, homoternary complexes are formed between pyridinium molecules and CB with high binding affinity, resulting in an offset stacked geometry of two pyridiniums inside the host cavity. The charge transport properties of free and dimerized pyridiniums are characterized using a scanning tunneling microscope-break junction (STM-BJ) technique. Our results show that π-stacked pyridinium dimers exhibit comparable molecular conductance to isolated, single pyridinium molecules, despite a longer transport pathway and a switch from intra-to intermolecular charge transport. Control experiments using a CB homologue (cucurbituril, CB) show that the synthetic host primarily serves to facilitate dimer formation and plays a minimal role on molecular conductance. Molecular modeling using density functional theory (DFT) reveals that pyridinium molecules are planarized upon dimerization inside the host cavity, which facilitates charge transport. In addition, the π-stacked pyridinium dimers possess large intermolecular LUMO-LUMO couplings, leading to enhanced intermolecular charge transport. Overall, this work demonstrates that supramolecular assembly can be used to control intermolecular charge transport in π-stacked molecules.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry