A common challenge in chemistry that deals with photoexcited states is to avoid oxygen quenching. This is crucial for hot research fields such as photon upconversion (UC), in which oxygen-sensitive triplet excited states play pivotal roles. However, methods to avoid oxygen quenching in aqueous media are far more limited despite eagerly anticipated catalytic and biological applications. This work introduces a simple strategy to achieve air-stable triplet–triplet annihilation (TTA)-based UC in water, namely, supramolecular crowding. Amphiphilic cationic acceptor molecules and anions with long alkyl chains co-assemble in water in which hydrophobic donor molecules are molecularly dispersed. Despite the common notion that oxygen molecules diffuse readily across hydrophobic domains in water, more than 80 % of the TTA-UC emission of the obtained hydrophobic co-assemblies is maintained in air-saturated water. This work demonstrates the new promising potential of supramolecular chemistry for photophysical and photochemical functions with oxygen-sensitive species.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Organic Chemistry