David Dunlop, Peter Horváth, Petr Klán, Tomáš Slanina, Peter Sebej

Central Ring Puckering Enhances the Stokes Shift of Xanthene Dyes

  • General Chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Organic Chemistry

Small‐molecule dyes are generally designed based on well‐understood electronic effects. However, steric hindrance can promote excited‐state geometric relaxation, increasing the difference between the positions of absorption and emission bands (the Stokes shift). Accordingly, we hypothesized that sterically induced central ring puckering in xanthene dyes could be used to systematically increase their Stokes shift. Through a combined experimental/quantum‐chemical approach, we screened a group of (9‐acylimino)‐pyronin dyes with a perturbed central ring geometry. Our results showed that an atom with sp3 hybridization in position 10 of (9‐acylimino)‐pyronins induces central ring puckering and facilitates excited‐state geometric relaxation, thereby markedly enhancing their Stokes shifts (by up to ~2000 cm−1). Thus, we prepared fluorescent (9‐acylimino)‐pyronin pH sensors, which showed a Stokes shift disparity between acid and base forms of up to ~8700 cm−1. Moreover, the concept of ring puckering‐enhanced Stokes shift can be applied to a wide range of xanthene analogues found in the literature. Therefore, central ring puckering may be reliably used as a strategy for enhancing Stokes shifts in the rational design of dyes.

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