Self-assembly of porphyrin nanostructures at the interface between two immiscible liquids

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Molina-Osorio, Andrés F.
Cheung, David L.
O'Dwyer, Colm
Stewart, Andrew A.
Dossot, Manuel
Herzog, Grégoire
Scanlon, Micheál D.
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One of the many evolved functions of photosynthetic organisms is to synthesize light harvesting nanostructures from photoactive molecules such as porphyrins. Engineering synthetic analogues with optimized molecular order necessary for the efficient capture and harvest of light energy remains challenging. Here, we address this challenge by reporting the self-assembly of zinc(II) meso-tetrakis(4-carboxyphenyl)porphyrins into films of highly ordered nanostructures. The self-assembly process takes place selectively at the interface between two immiscible liquids (water|organic solvent), with kinetically stable interfacial nanostructures formed only at pH values close to the pKa of the carboxyphenyl groups. Molecular dynamics simulations suggest that the assembly process is driven by an interplay between the hydrophobicity gradient at the interface and hydrogen bonding in the formed nanostructure. Ex situ XRD analysis and in situ UV/vis and steady state fluorescence indicates the formation of chlathrate type nanostructures that retain the emission properties of their monomeric constituents. The self-assembly method presented here avoids the use of acidic conditions, additives such as surfactants and external stimuli, offering an alternative for the realization of light-harvesting antennas in artificial photosynthesis technologies.
Nanostructures , Porphyrins , Self-assembly , Light-harvesting antennas , Artificial photosynthesis technologies , Energy conversion
Molina-Osorio, A. F., Cheung, D. L., O'Dwyer, C., Stewart, A. A., Dossot, M., Herzog, G. and Scanlon, M. D. (2020) 'Self-Assembly of Porphyrin Nanostructures at the Interface Between Two Immiscible Liquids', The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.0c00437
© 2020 American Chemical Society. This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, copyright © American Chemical Society after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see