J. Zhou, L. Stojanović, A. A. Berezin, T. Battisti, A. Gill, B. M. Kariuki, D. Bonifazi, R. C. Otero, M. R. Wasielewski, Y. L. Wu.
Chem. Sci., 2021, 12, 767-773.
Development of purely organic materials displaying room-temperature phosphorescence (RTP) will expand the toolbox of inorganic phosphors for imaging, sensing or display applications. While molecular solids were found to suppress non-radiative energy dissipation and make the RTP process kinetically favourable, such an effect should be enhanced by the presence of multivalent directional non-covalent interactions. Here we report phosphorescence of a series of fast triplet-forming tetraethyl naphthalene-1,4,5,8-tetracarboxylates. Various numbers of bromo substituents were introduced to modulate intermolecular halogen-bonding interactions. Bright RTP with quantum yields up to 20% was observed when the molecule is surrounded by a Br⋯O halogen-bonded network. Spectroscopic and computational analyses revealed that judicious heavy-atom positioning suppresses non-radiative relaxation and enhances intersystem crossing at the same time. The latter effect was found to be facilitated by the orbital angular momentum change, in addition to the conventional heavy-atom effect. Our results suggest the potential of multivalent non-covalent interactions for excited-state conformation and electronic control.