Intramolecular energy transfer in a synthetic dendron-based light harvesting system

Lea Nienhaus, Dustin E. Gross, Zheng Xue, Jeffrey S. Moore, Martin Gruebele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Single-molecule experiments based on Förster resonant energy transfer (FRET) or on single molecule absorption spectroscopy (SMA) are now capable of studying energy funneling, exciton blockade, singlet fission, and a variety of other processes that involve multiple photoactive groups interacting on a single molecular backbone. Here, we present synthesis and optical characterization of a new dendron functionalized with two green donor dyes (Cy3) and one red acceptor dye (Cy5) through flexible linkers. We describe in detail the synthesis of the conjugated network and the flexible dye coupling. Characterization of the dendron and of control molecules with fewer donors or no acceptor by ensemble absorption and emission spectroscopy shows that the system is capable of light harvesting, producing an intramolecular FRET signal from the acceptor greater than expected from a single donor. We also investigate intramolecular energy transfer upon UV excitation of the conjugated backbone. The photophysical behavior of this light harvesting dendron can be rationalized by a simple Förster/superexchange model. Simulations and scanning tunneling microscopy of single dendron molecules show that the dyes can fold over onto the dendron, creating a heterogeneous distribution of conformations suitable for single molecule studies of light harvesting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-33
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A: Chemistry
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Dendrimer
  • Energy transfer
  • FRET
  • Light harvesting
  • Scanning microscopy


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