Excited-State Symmetry Breaking in Solvent Mixtures

J Phys Chem Lett. 2024 Mar 7;15(9):2447-2452. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.4c00213. Epub 2024 Feb 26.


A large number of multipolar dyes undergo excited-state symmetry breaking (ESSB) in polar media. During this process, electronic excitation, initially distributed evenly over the molecule, localizes, at least partially, on one donor-acceptor branch. To resolve its initial stage, ESSB is investigated with a donor-acceptor-donor dye in binary mixtures of nonpolar and polar solvents using time-resolved infrared absorption spectroscopy. The presence of a few polar molecules around the dye is sufficient to initiate ESSB. Although the extent of asymmetry in a mixture is close to that in a pure solvent of similar polarity, the dynamics are slower and involve translational diffusion. However, preferential solvation in the mixtures leads to a larger local polarity. Furthermore, inhomogeneous broadening of the S1 ← S0 absorption band of the dye is observed in the mixtures, allowing for a photoselection of solutes with different local environments and ESSB dynamics.