Combining Benzazolo-Oxazolidine Twins toward Multi-state Nonlinear Optical Switches

Jean Quertinmont, Pierre Beaujean, Julien Stiennon, Youssef Aidibi, Philippe Leriche, Vincent Rodriguez, Lionel Sanguinet, Benoît Champagne

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Molecular switches are chemical compounds exhibiting the possibility of reversible transformations between their different forms accompanied by a modification in their properties. Among these, switching of multi-addressable Benzazolo-OXazolidines (BOXs) from a closed form to an open form results in drastic modifications in their linear and nonlinear optical properties. Here, we target molecules containing two identical BOX units (DiBOX) connected by different π-conjugated linkers, and we combine synthesis, UV/visible absorption, and hyper-Rayleigh scattering (HRS) measurements, together with density functional theory (DFT) calculations. Three derivatives have been considered, which differ by the linker: (i) a bithiophene moiety (Bt), (ii) two 3,4-ethylenedioxythiopene (EDOT) units, and (iii) a triad composed of an EDOT-thiophene-EDOT sequence (TtO). As a matter of fact, these systems can adopt three states (CF-CF, POF-POF, and CF-POF) depending on the closed form (CF) or the protonated open form (POF) of each BOX unit. Despite chemical equivalence, stepwise switching of such systems under the addition of a chemical acid or an oxidant has been experimentally evidenced for two of them (DiBOX-Bt and DiBOX-TtO). Then, DFT calculations show that the first BOX opening leads to the formation of a push-pull π-conjugated segment, exhibiting a huge increase in the first hyperpolarizability (β) and a bathochromic shift with respect to the fully closed form. On the contrary, the second BOX opening induces not only a slight bathochromic shift but also a reduction in their β values conferring the great and uncommon abilities to modulate their linear and nonlinear properties over three discrete levels. Among these results, those on DiBOX-Bt agree with the experimental data obtained by HRS measurements and further shed light on their structure-property relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3918-3931
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of physical chemistry B
Issue number15
Early online date4 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2021


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