A fluorescent, shape-persistent dendritic host with photoswitchable guest encapsulation and intramolecular energy transfer

Thi Thanh Tam Nguyen, David Türp, Dapeng Wang, Belinda Nölscher, Frédéric Laquai, Klaus Müllen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


A fluorescent and photoresponsive host based on rigid polyphenylene dendrimers (PPDs) has been synthesized. The key building block for the divergent dendrimer buildup is a complex tetracyclone 12 containing azobenzenyl, pyridyl, and ethynyl entities. The rigidity of polyphenylenes is of crucial importance for a site-specific placement of different functions: eight azobenzene (AB) moieties into the rigid scaffold, a fluorescent perylenetetracarboxdiimide (PDI) into the core, and eight pyridin functions into the interior cavities. AB moieties of host - 1 undergo reversible cis - trans photoisomerization and are photostable, as confirmed by various techniques: UV - vis, 1H NMR, size exclusion chromatography, and fluorescence correlation (FCS). In this system, AB moieties act as photoswitchable hinges and enable control over (i) molecular size, (ii) intramolecular energy transfer between AB and PDI, and (iii) encapsulation and release of guest molecules. The presence of PDI allows not only following the effect of cis - trans photoisomerization on molecular size with highly sensitive FCS but also monitoring the efficiency of the intramolecular energy transfer process (from AB to PDI) by time-resolved optical spectroscopy. Pyridyl functions were incorporated to facilitate guest uptake via hydrogen bonds between the host and guests. Also, we have demonstrated that the photoswitchability of the host can be utilized to actively encapsulate guest molecules into its interior cavities. This novel, light-driven encapsulation mechanism could enable the design of new drug delivery systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11194-11204
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 27 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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