Exploiting Excited-State Aromaticity to Design Highly Stable Singlet Fission Materials

Kealan J. Fallon, Peter Budden, Enrico Salvadori, Alex M. Ganose, Christopher N. Savory, Lissa Eyre, Simon Dowland, Qianxiang Ai, Stephen Goodlett, Chad Risko, David O. Scanlon, Christopher W.M. Kay, Akshay Rao, Richard H. Friend, Andrew J. Musser, Hugo Bronstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Singlet fission, the process of forming two triplet excitons from one singlet exciton, is a characteristic reserved for only a handful of organic molecules due to the atypical energetic requirement for low energy excited triplet states. The predominant strategy for achieving such a trait is by increasing ground state diradical character; however, this greatly reduces ambient stability. Herein, we exploit Baird's rule of excited state aromaticity to manipulate the singlet-triplet energy gap and create novel singlet fission candidates. We achieve this through the inclusion of a [4n] 5-membered heterocycle, whose electronic resonance promotes aromaticity in the triplet state, stabilizing its energy relative to the singlet excited state. Using this theory, we design a family of derivatives of indolonaphthyridine thiophene (INDT) with highly tunable excited state energies. Not only do we access novel singlet fission materials, they also exhibit excellent ambient stability, imparted due to the delocalized nature of the triplet excited state. Spin-coated films retained up to 85% activity after several weeks of exposure to oxygen and light, while analogous films of TIPS-pentacene showed full degradation after 4 days, showcasing the excellent stability of this class of singlet fission scaffold. Extension of our theoretical analysis to almost ten thousand candidates reveals an unprecedented degree of tunability and several thousand potential fission-capable candidates, while clearly demonstrating the relationship between triplet aromaticity and singlet-triplet energy gap, confirming this novel strategy for manipulating the exchange energy in organic materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13867-13876
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 4 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Part of this work was funded by EU project 679789 – CONTREX and EPSRC grant “Centre for Advanced Materials for Integrated Energy Systems (CAM-IES)” EP/P007767/1. A.J.M. was supported by the EPSRC (EP/M01083X/1 and EP/M025330/1). This work made use of the ARCHER UK National Supercomputing Service ( http://www.archer.ac.uk ) via our membership of the UK’s HEC Materials Chemistry Consortium, which is funded by EPSRC (EP/L000202), and the Thomas machine which is funded by the Tier 2 Hub in Materials and Molecular Modelling (EP/P020194/1). A.M.G. acknowledges Diamond Light Source for the cosponsorship of a studentship on the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Modelling and Materials Science (EP/L015862/1). C.N.S. is grateful to the EPSRC and the Department of Chemistry at UCL for the provision of a Doctoral Training Partnership studentship (Ref No. 1492829).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Chemical Society.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry (all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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