Hydrogen-bonding-mediated molecular vibrational suppression for enhancing the fluorescence quantum yield applicable for visual phenol detection

Bo Hyun Kim, Wontae Kim, Taemin Kim, Byoung Min Ko, Soon Jik Hong, Kangtaek Lee, Jinsang Kim, Sung Ho Song, Sunjong Lee

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2 Citations (Scopus)


It is generally accepted that while efficient suppression of molecular vibration is inevitable for purely organic phosphors due to their long emission lifetime in the regime of 1 ms or longer, fluorophores having a lifetime in the nanoseconds regime are not sensitive to collisional quenching. Here, however, we demonstrate that a fluorophore, 2,5-bis(hexyloxy)terephthaldehyde (BHTA), capable of having hydrogen bonding (H bonding) via its two aldehyde groups can have a largely enhanced (450%) fluorescence quantum yield (QY) in amorphous poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) matrix compared to its crystalline powder. We ascribe this enhanced QY to the efficient suppression of molecular vibrations via intermolecular H bonding. We confirm this feasibility by conducting temperature-dependent fluorescence emission intensity measurement. As gaseous phenol can intervene with the H bonding between BHTA and PAA, interestingly, BHTA embedded in PAA can selectively detect gaseous phenol by a sharp fluorescence emission intensity drop that is visibly recognizable by the naked eye. The results provide an insightful molecular design strategy for a fluorophore and fluorometric sensory system design for enhanced photoluminescence QY and convenient detection of various volatile organic compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54339-54347
Number of pages9
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number45
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov 17

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH), Research Project of [Creativity] Clean production system and core technology (KITECH EI-21-0037), and Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2020R1I1A1A0107322012 and NRF-2020R1I1A307162811). This work was supported by a research grant from Kongju National University in 2021.

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)


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