Green and Sustainable Chemistry, 2011, 1, 1-6
doi:10.4236/gsc.2011.11001 Published Online February 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. GSC
Lipophilic Optical Supramolecular Nano
Devices in the Aqueous Phase
Heinz Langhals*, Tim Pust
*Department of Chemistry, LMU University of Munich, Munich, Germany
Received January 5, 2011; revised February 15, 2011; accepted February 19, 20 1 1
Nano micelles of sodium dodecyl sulphate in water were prepared as local lipophilic media for the
organisation of interacting chromophores. Such arrangements were controlled by peripheric substituents to
operate either as isolated chromophores or as skew oriented pairs where H-type transitions cause hysochromic
absorption and J-type transitions bathochromic fluorescence. As a consequence, large Stokes’ shift could be
Keywords: Lipophilic Optical Supramolecular, Nano Device, Nano Micelle, Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate
1. Introduction
The investigation of light-driven processes is an attrac-
tive subject of research and will be applied in organic
photovoltaic cells [1], photoelectrochemical cells (DSSC)
[2], artificial photosynthesis [3] and organic conducting
polymers [4]. The controlling of chromophores on the
molecular scale is a prerequisite for the development of
light-driven devices [4]. Commonly chromophoric sys-
tems are applied in media of similar polarity such as
lipophilc systems in lipophilic media and hydrophilic
system in hydrophilic ones. However, this means not
only a restriction for the variety of combinations, but
neglects also many possibilities given by the interaction
of lipophilic and hydrophilic structures. We used such
interactions for the preparation of nano micelles in order
to incorporate lipophilic chromohores for their operation
in the aqueous phase. Lipophilic organic chromophores
in micelles of maleinated linseed oil were previously
described [5], however, only isolated chromophores
could be incorporated and the intrinsic light absorption
of the detergent interferes with some applicatio ns of such
systems. The development of more universal micellar
dyes systems would bring about an appreciable progress.
2. Results and Discussion
We investigated various surfactants such as 1-dodecyl-
sulphate or 2,3-dimethylnaphthalene-4-sulphonate [6]
(Nekal®) and found the sodium salt of the former (SDS)
to be the most appropriate for the preparation of suitable
nano micelles [7,8]. The lack of light absorption in the
UVA and visible is of special advantage for optical ap-
plications. Perylene dyes [9] 1 (perylene-3,4:9.10-tetra-
carboxylic bisimides) were app lied for incorporation into
micelles because of their extraordinarily high stability
and light fastness. The surfactant SDS was transformed
to a gel [10], doped with dyes and then diluted with wa-
ter where the application of ultra sonic is helpful, but not
We applied the perylene derivatives 1a1h where R
are long-chain sec-alkyl groups [11] (“swallow-tail sub-
stituents”) for solubilising and used the chain-lengths of
R for controlling the arrangement in micelles. Unstruc-
tured nano particles could be obtained from all deriva-
tives of 1 by means of sodium dodecyl sulphate; see Fig-
ure 1 for the size distribution and Figure 2 for the shape
and structure. The behaviour of derivatives with short
chains in R is complex: Particles with 70 nm (peak) were
1 R
a CH(C2H5)2
b CH(n-C3H7)2
c CH(n-C4H9)2
d CH(n-C5H11)2
e CH(n-C6H13)2
f CH(n-C7H15)2
g CH(n-C8H17)2
h CH(n-C9H18)2
i CH(i-C3H7)2
obtained with the incorporation of the only slightly solu-
ble 1a, the size increases for 1b to 100 nm and reaches
nearly 200 nm for 1d. 1c is supposed to be an exception
because of its labile crystal lattice [12] helping disper-
sion. A further increase of the chain lengths in R from 1d
to 1h causes a successive decrease in the size of particles
remarkably until below 40 nm for 1h. The arrangement
of nano particles in water remains stable for a long time:
No degradation was ob served ove r many months.
The arrangement of chromophores in the nano parti-
cles is indicated by their UV/Vis spectra reported in Fig-
ure 3. The spec trum of 1c documents essentially isolated
chromophores in the micelles and corresponds to the
spectrum of the homogeneously dissolved 1e in chloro-
form [13]. Some increase in intensity at 490 nm is found
as well as a novel weaker absorption at 540 nm; compare
10100 1000
size in nm
Figure 1. Size distribution of nano particles of 1 and SDS
in water by DLS.
Figure 2. Cryo TEM micrograph of nano particles of 1e
and 1-dodecylsulphate in water. The diameter of the big
particle left bottom left is 260 nm.
400 500 600 700
in nm
1e in chlorof o rm
Figure 3. UV/Vis absorption spectra of derivatives of 1 in
nano micelles compared with 1e in chloroform.
Ref. [12,14]. These alterations are attributed to a minor
amount of interacting chromophores. The extent of inter-
action can be controlled by the chain length of R in 1
where an increasing size of the aliphatic group causes a
progressive damping of the absorption at 525 nm and an
increase of intensity at about 490 and 540 nm. We inter-
pret the occurrence of two novel bands as a consequence
of a skew arrangement of the chromophores in the nano
micellar particles where the hypsochro mic H–type absorp-
tions dominate over the bathochromic J-type according to
their higher intensity [15]. The occurrence of two novel
bands may be interpreted in terms of a Davydow splitting
in the interacting chromophores [16] forming a more hyp-
sochromic -and a more bathochromic -electronic transi-
tion compared with the isolated chromophore [5]. The
intensities of these transitions depend on the orientation of
the dipoles of electronic transition being parallel to the
N-N-connection line in 1. Collinearly oriented dipoles
such as in Figure 4, left, favour the more hypsochromic
-transition [17] and suppress both the -transition and
fluorescence because of electrostatic interaction and sym-
metry of the electron movement [18]; see Figure 4 left,
and marked charges. On the other hand, a shifted ar-
rangement of dipoles such as in Figure 4, right, sup-
presses the -transition and allows both, the -transi tion
[19] and fluorescence [18]. Finally, a skew type arrange-
ment allows both transitions w here the intensities are con-
trolled by the orient ation of the t ransiti on dipol es.
The arrangements of two chromophores were further
investigated by quantum chemical methods and an ener-
getic minimum was found for the structure in Figure 5;
H-type arrangement
J-type arrangement
Figure 4. Arranged transition dipoles in aggregates.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. GSC
the AM1 method was preferred because of many non-
covalent interactions in the pair, whereas less reliable
results are expected for DFT B3LYP calculations [20].
The structure of the dimer is presumably stabilised by
electrostatic-interaction between electron rich and elec-
tron depleted atoms of the two dye molecules. As a con-
sequence, a dihedral angle of some 60° between the skew
arranged chromophores is formed allowing both the
weak and the strong transition because of the domi-
nating H-type interaction. This corresponds to the UV/is
spectra in Figure 3 where a weaker bathochromic and a
stronger hypsochromic absorption was found.
The light emission of the -transition is symmetry for-
bidden and causes the fluorescence quenching of H-ag-
gregates. This can be overcome by skew type arrange-
ments such as in Figure 5 where the -transition be-
comes allowed. One may expect an internal energy con-
version [21] from the excited electronic state of the -
transition to the exited state of the -transition causing a
bathochromically shifted fluorescence. This shift in
fluorescence from isolated chromophores in the lipo-
philic chloroform to stacked chromophores in nano mi-
celles reaches some 150 nm (5000 cm-1) and is shown in
Figure 6. A fine tuning can be achieved by the substitu-
ent R in 1, both for the position of the bathochromic
band of fluorescence and some residual fluorescence of
isolated chromophores at 530 nm.
Figure 5. Calculated structure of a typical dimer of 1 with
R = CH3.
500 600 700 800
in nm
1e in chloroform
Figure 6. UV/Vis fluorescence spectra of derivatives of 1 in
nano micelles compared with 1e in chloroform.
The stacking of chromophores according to Figure 5
is further confirmed by a comparison with the UV/Vis
spectra of 2 [22]; see Figure 7, compare also Ref. [12,15]
for comparable arrangements. The spectra of 1f in mi-
celles and 2 in homogeneous solution are very similar
and both differ appreciably from 1e and 1f, respectively,
in homogeneous solution; see Figure 7. Two chromo-
phoric units of 1 are tied together in the cyclophane 2.
The twelve membered connecting aliphatic chains are
small enough to keep the chromophores close together,
but large enough to allow their optimal orientation. Thus
a similar orientation as the aggregated 1f in micelles is
expected. This is indicated by the similarity of their UV/
Vis spectra. Moreover, the fluorescence quantum yield of
2 is found to be 46% (integration until 900 nm) and is
about the same as the fluorescence quantum yield of 1f
in the nano particles where 40% are observed. The ap-
preciably smaller fluorescence quantum yield of the
dimer of 1f in micelles and 2, respectively, compared
with close to 100% of isolated dye molecules of 1f in
chloroform is interpreted as a consequence of similarly
lower transition probability of the -transition compared
with the high transition probability for isolated chromo-
400 500 600 700 800
in nm
Figure 7. UV/Vis absorption (left) and fluorescence spectra
(right). Blue: nano micelles of 1f, magenta: 2 in chloroform,
thin black: 1e in chloroform.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. GSC
3. Conclusion
Lipophilic chromohores can be introduced into the
aqueous phase by means of micelle forming detergents
such as 1-dodecyl sulphate (SDS) where local nano-di-
mensioned lipophilic cages were established for organis-
ing supramolecular interactions. Peripheral substituents
control the interaction of chromophores by their size to
form nano devices with special optical properties such as
increased Stokes’ shifts. This may be applied, for exam-
ple, for solar energy collectors [23]. Even more complex
functional structures may be constru cted in such micellar
nano devices.
4. Experimental
General UV/Vis spectra: Varian Cary 5000; fluorescence
spectra: Varian Eclipse. The dyes 1 and 2 were prep ared
and purified according to the literature [11,22]. Prepara-
tion of nano particles in the aqueous phase: Sodium
1-dodecylsulphate (460 mg) and distilled water (1.7 g)
were heated to 50˚C to form a colourless gel. 1 (some 10
mg) and chloroform (60 mg, ca. 10 drops) were added at
50˚C with subsequent ultra sonification for 10 min,
treatment with distilled water (30 mL) and filtration (D5
glass filter). The nano particles in water remain unaltered
for many months. Neither flocculation nor degradation of
the strong fluorescence could be observed.
5. Acknowledgements
This work was supported by the Fonds der Chemischen
Industrie. T. P. thanks Degussa Evonik for a PhD schol-
arship and support by the CIPSM cluster. We thank Prof.
Thomas Bein for help with electron microscopy and DLS
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