ConspectusThe properties of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are determined by their size, shape, and functional groups. Equally important is their curvature, since deviation from planarity can affect their optical, electronic, and magnetic properties and also induce chirality. Acenes, which can be viewed as one-dimensional nanocarbons, are often twisted out of planarity. Although twisting is expected to affect the above-mentioned properties, it is often overlooked. This Account focuses on helically locked twistacenes (twisted acenes) having different twist angles and the effect of twisting on their electronic and optical properties.Various synthetic approaches to inducing backbone twist in acenes are discussed, with a focus on the introduction of a diagonal tether across the core, as this minimizes confounding substituent effects. Using such tethered acenes as our model, we then discuss the effects of twisting the aromatic core on twistacene properties.Electronic properties. Increasing the degree of twist only slightly affects the HOMO and LUMO energy levels. Twisting leads to a small increase in the HOMO level and a decrease in the LUMO level, which produces an overall decrease in the HOMO-LUMO gap.Optical properties. As the degree of twist increases, a slight bathochromic shift is observed in the absorption spectra, in accordance with the decrease in the HOMO-LUMO gap. The fluorescence quantum efficiency and the fluorescence lifetime also decrease. This is likely to be related to an increasing rate of intersystem crossing, which arises from increased spin-orbit coupling. In addition, computational studies indicate that the S0-T1 energy gap decreases with increasing twist.Chiroptical properties. Increased twisting results in a larger Cotton effect and anisotropy factor, with the anisotropy factors of Ant-Cn being higher than those of longer helicenes. The parallel orientation of electric and magnetic transition dipole moments in twistacenes underlies this behavior and renders them as excellent chiroptical materials. The same trend is observed for the radical cations of twistacenes, which absorb in the NIR spectral region.Conjugation and delocalization. Twisting the anthracene radical cation up to 40° (13° per benzene ring) does not significantly affect spin delocalization, with the EPR spectra of twistacene radical cations showing that only slight localization occurs. This is in line with computational studies, which show only a small decrease in π-overlap for large acene twist.Overall, modifying the length of the tether in diagonally tethered acenes allows chemists to control core twist and to induce chirality. Twisting affects key optical, electronic, and chiroptical properties of acenes. Consequently, controlling the twist angle can improve the future design of nanocarbons with desired properties.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 1789/16). A.B. is supported by a PBC fellowship, Council for Higher Education, Israel.
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