Aggregation-induced photon upconversion (iPUC) based on a triplet-triplet annihilation (TTA) process is successfully developed via controlled self-assembly of donor-acceptor pairs in organogel nanoassemblies. Although segregation of donor from acceptor assemblies has been an outstanding problem in TTA-based UC and iPUC, we resolved this issue by modifying both the triplet donor and aggregation induced emission (AIE)-type acceptor with glutamate-based self-assembling moieties. These donors and acceptors co-assemble to form organogels without segregation. Interestingly, these donor-acceptor binary gels show upconversion at room temperature but the upconversion phenomena were lost upon dissolution of the gels on heating. The observed changes in TTA-UC emission were thermally reversible, reflecting the controlled assembly/disassembly of the binary molecular systems. The observed on/off ratio of UC emission was much higher than that of the aggregation-induced fluorescence of the acceptor, which highlights the important role of iPUC, i.e., multi-exciton TTA for photoluminescence switching. This work bridges iPUC and supramolecular chemistry and provides a new strategy for designing stimuli-responsive upconversion systems.
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