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Article
Liquid Crystalline Star-shaped Supergelator Exhibiting Aggregation Induced Blue light Emission
Suraj Kumar Pathak, Balaram Pradhan, Monika Gupta, Santanu Kumar Pal, and Achalkumar Ammathnadu Sudhakar
Langmuir, Just Accepted Manuscript • DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.6b02509 • Publication Date (Web): 16 Aug 2016
Downloaded from http://pubs.acs.org on August 17, 2016

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Page 1 of 25 Langmuir

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1
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3 Liquid Crystalline Star-shaped Supergelator
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Exhibiting Aggregation Induced Blue light Emission
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7 Suraj Kumar Pathaka, Balaram Pradhana, Monika Guptab , Santanu Kumar Palb and
8 Achalkumar Ammathnadu Sudhakar a*
9 a
10 Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, Guwahati,
11 781039, Assam, India. bIndian Institute of Science Education and Research,
12 Mohali,Sector-81, Knowledge City, Manauli 140306, Punjab, India.
13
14 Abstract: A family of closely related star shaped stilbene based molecules containing
15 an amide linkage are synthesized and their self-assembly in liquid crystalline and gel
16
state was investigated. The number and position of the peripheral alkyl tails were
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18 systematically varied to understand the structure-property relation. Interestingly one
19 of the molecules with seven peipheral chains was bimesomorphic exhibiting columnar
20 hexagonal and columnar rectangular phase, while rest of them stabilized room
21 temperature columnar hexagonal phase. The self-assembly of these molecules in
22 liquid crystalline and organogel state is extremely sensitive to the position and
23 number of alkoxy tails in the periphery. Two of the compounds with six and seven
24 peripheral tails exhibited supergelation behavior in long-chain hydrocarbon solvents.
25 One of these compounds with seven alkyl chains was investigated further and it has
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shown higher stability and moldability in the gel state. The xerogel of the same
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28 compound was characterized with the help of extensive microscopic and X-ray
29 diffraction studies. The nanofibres in the xerogel are found to consist of molecules
30 arranged in a lamellar fashion. Furthermore, this compound shows very weak
31 emission in solution, but show aggregation induced emission property in the gel state.
32 Considering the dearth of solid-state blue light emitting organic materials, this
33 molecular design is promising where the self-assembly and emission in the
34 aggregated state can be preserved. The unsymmetric design to lower the phase
35 transition temperatures.The presence of amide bond helps to stabilize columnar
36
packing over a long range due to its polarity and intermolecular hydrogen bonding in
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38 addition to promoting organogelation.
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40 Introduction
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42 Molecular self-assembly plays a crucial role in the development of functional
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44 soft materials.1 There are various functional supramolecules like dendrimers,
45 peptosomes, microcapsules, micelles, organogels and liquid crystalline materials,
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47 which are formed through molecular self-assembly. Organogels and liquid crystals are
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49 one such example where the engineered molecules exhibit the desired functions in the
50 self-assembled state. Columnar liquid crystalline (Col LC) self-assembly of disc
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52 shaped molecules was discovered in 1977,2 and this unique one-dimensional (1D)
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54 self-assembly has got the potential in the development of organic light emitting
55 diodes (OLED),3 organic field effect transistors (OFETs),4 organic photovoltaics
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57 (OPVs),5 gas sensors and lubricants.6 The efficiency of these devices depends on the
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3 intermolecular order, which help in the charge migration along the columnar
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5 phases.6,7 Thus the molecular design principle of Col LCs involves the utilization of
6 various secondary interactions like H-bonding, π-π interactions, ionic, hydrophilic and
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8 hydrophobic interactions etc. apart from the molecular shape anisotropy that leads to
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10 the nanoseggregation of incompatible molecular subunits.8,9 After the discovery of
11 Col phase in disc shaped molecules, there were many different non-conventional
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13 molecular designs to stabilize Col phases. Shape persistent star shaped mesogens10-13
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15 or ‘hekates’11-12 are one of the non-conventional LCs formed by the covalent linking
16 of three rigid arms symmetrically to a central core through linkers. Their lack of shape
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18 anisotropy to exhibit mesophases is compensated by the nanophase segregation of
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20 chemically/physically different molecular subunits and their tendency of efficient
21 space filling. More recently, propeller-like 1,3,5-triphenyl benzenes exhibiting
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23 ordered columnar phases are reported.13 Inherent synthetic flexibility and the easy
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25 incorporation of the properties like hole/electron transport, nonlinear optical activity,
26 fluorescence and the ability to exhibit a rich variety of mesophases like nematic,
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28 columnar, cubic or soft crystal phases are the uniqueness of hekates in comparison to
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30 discotics. The presence of the voids between the arms of these star shaped molecules
31 promote the glassy state.11-12 Columnar phases with glassy nature are important as
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33 they allow the movement of charge carriers with the simultaneous restriction on ionic
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35 impurities.14 In the context of the application of Col phases towards OLEDs, it is
36 important to stabilize Col phase along with the preserved solid-state luminescence.
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38 This is because aggregation quenching of luminescence is detrimental to the device
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40 performance. Similarly organogels are the three dimensional network of the entangled
41 supramolecular fibres which is formed by self assembly of low molecular weight
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43 gelator, entrapping a large volume of the solvent.15,16 The 1D self-assembly of the
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45 molecules in the form of fibers has got a great potential in the area of optoelectronics,
46 controlled drug release 17 energy transfer 18, 19 sensing20 and security.21, 22
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48 Both the self-assemblies i.e. Col LCs and organogels can be designed and
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50 tuned to have properties like long-range order and high charge-carrier mobility in
51 addition to their inherent properties like self-healing ability, ease of processing, high
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53 solubility to enhance their application in the fabrication of electronic devices.8-9, 15-16
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55 These self-assemblies bring anisotropies in the physical properties, for example the
56 conductivity along the column is more, while that across the column is less in many
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58 orders. The emission may be more in the bulk state if the molecules form slip-stacked
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3 or J-type aggregates, while it gets quenched when they form cofacial or H-type
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5 aggregates.23 The aggregation caused quenching (ACQ) due to the non-radiative
6 decay of the excited state is a notorious problem in decreasing the luminescence
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8 efficiency in aggregates, which have strong π-π interaction. Since the planar structure
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10 of the molecule is a prerequisite for the stabilization of Col phase and vital for charge
11 migration, this is a delicate problem to address. Thus the design should include an
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13 option to preserve both columnar order as well as emissive nature.
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15 There is a class of molecules which show the phenomenon of aggregation
16 induced emission (AIE), where the luminescence quenching is avoided due to the
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18 restricted rotation of the fluorophores. Hence there is flurry of activity to synthesize
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20 molecules that exhibit AIE phenomenon in the whole visible region 24 and eventually
21 targeted their application in solid-state emissive displays. Inspite of these efforts, the
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23 molecules which exhibit aggregation induced blue light emission are very rare.
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25 Further columnar self-assembly of such molecules is a challenging task. Considering
26 the scarcity and the vital role in the construction of full color display and white light
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28 emission25-27 developing such molecules, which combine columnar self-assembly,
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30 blue emission and AIE phenomenon is of foremost importance. Again the absence of
31 a general protocol makes molecular design complicated and demanding.
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35 It will be ideal if a molecule exhibits LC behavior and the ability to undergo
36 gelation maintaining the same order. Such compounds are suitable candidates for the
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38 applications in optoelectronic devices.28-29 In order to achieve this the molecule
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40 should have the ability to self-assemble into columnar aggregates and the interaction
41 of these aggregates with the solvents must not destabilize the columnar self-assembly.
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43 Incorporation of functionalities like amide, hydroxyl, acid, large aromatic units and
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45 steroid moieties often known to support gelation and in few case less than 1 weight %
46 of molecule is sufficient to gelate large volume of slovents. Such compounds are
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48 known as supergelators.30 There are some reports on fluorescent amide derivatives
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50 which employ the hydrogen bonding to form large 3D entangled networks, which
51 help in entrapping the solvent.31-32
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53 Though there are some reports on the mesogens containing amide units are
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55 reported, their gelation properties are not explored in detail. It should be noted that
56 such molecules with amide units stabilized wide mesophase range including room
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58 temperature.33 Stabilizing room temperature Col phase is also another factor, which
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3 will enhance the performance of the semiconductor, as most of them crystallize at
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5 room temperature leading to defects, which might act as charge traps. Amide units are
6 incorporated as linking units between the central core and peripheral tails in the case
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8 of discotics to overcome the coulombic repulsion between the cores resulting in
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10 reduced intracolumnar distance and hence resulting in high charge-carrier mobility. 34
11 Recently there has been a report where the introduction of amide units stabilized a
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13 ferroelectrically switching Col phase.35
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15 trans-Stilbene unit has been known for its excellent
16 photochemical/photophysical properties,36 and has found many commercial
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18 applications viz., optical brightener, laser dyes and in the fabrication of OLEDs,
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20 photoresists, photoconductive devices, optical switching and non linear optics (NLO).
21 Coya et. al. fabricated a blue OLED from that 1,3,5-tris(3,4,5-tris(dodecyloxy)styryl
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23 benzene, but the molecules were crystalline at room temperature.37 Lehman et. al.
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25 reported a star shaped stilbene based molecule which stabilized the Col phase over a
26 thermal range of 37 degrees.38 Yelamaggad et. al. reported the star shaped molecules
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28 based on trans-stilbene stabilizing the Colh phase, but the compound is a green light
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30 emitter in solution and further red shift was seen in solid state.39, 40
31 In this report we have designed a star shaped molecule where the central
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33 benzene ring is connected with two trans-stilbene fluorophores at alternate positions,
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35 while the other meta-position is occupied by peripherally substituted alkoxy benzene
36 connected through an amide linkage. Peripherally substituted trans-stilbenes were
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38 chosen for their emissive nature, while amide linkage was introduced as a possible
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40 means to achieve room temperature liquid crystallinity and gelation. Further variation
41 in the structure was carried out, by varying the number of alkyl tails in these
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43 peripheral rings to tune the thermal and gelation behavior (Fig. 1).
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45 Cr
46 Rectangular Columnar Phase
Hexagonal Columnar Phase
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48 1a
49 1b
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1c
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52 1d
53 1e
54 0 26 52 78 104 130
55 Temperature (oC)
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57 Figure 1. Bargraph summarizing the thermal behavior of compounds 1a-e (second
58 heating cycle)
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3 Results and discussion
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6 Synthesis and Characterization. The synthetic route for the preparation of the target
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8 molecules is depicted in scheme 1 and 2 (See the SI for experimental and
9 characterization data).
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12 NO2
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14 (i) (ii)
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16 HOOC COOH HOOC COOH
17 13 12 11
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19 (iii)
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21 NO2
22 NO2
NO2
23 (iv)
24 (v)
25 O P P O
26 EtO OEt EtO OEt Br Br
27 OH OH
28 8 9 10
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31 Scheme 1. Synthesis of key-intermediate1,3-bis(diethoxyphosphoryl)methyl)-5-nitro
32 benzene (8). Reagents and conditions: i) KMnO4, aq. NaOH, reflux, 6 days (58%); ii)
33 HNO3, H2SO4, reflux, 24 h (73%); iii) NaBH4, BF3.Et2O, dry THF, 16h, rt (89%); iv) PBr3,
34 dry THF, 24 h (97%); v) Triethylphosphite, 130oC, 6 h, N2 (70%).
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37 m-Xylene was subjected to oxidation by refluxing in a alkaline aqueous solution of
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39 KMnO4 to obtain isophthalic acid (12) which was nitrated by heating with the
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nitration mixture to get 5-nitro benzene-1,3-dioic acid (11). This compound was
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42 reduced with NaBH4 in presence of Lewis acid BF3.Et2O to get 3,5-bis-
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44 (hydroxymethyl) nitrobenzene (10). This alcohol was further reacted with PBr3 to
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obtain 3,5-bis–(bromomethyl)nitrobenzene (9). The Michaelis–Arbuzov reaction of
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47 compound (9) with the triethylphosphite furnished 1,3-
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49 bis((diethoxyphosphoryl)methyl)-5-nitrobenzene (8). The requisite aldehyde (4a-b)
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were prepared in quantitative yields by different methods as follows; (i) 3,4,-
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52 decyloxy benzaldehyde (4a) was prepared by O-alkylation of 3,4-
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54 dihydroxybenzaldehyde with n-bromodecane following Williamson’s etherification
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3 R1
O
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5 OEt
HO
6 R3
HO
7 R1 = R2 = -OH; R3 = H O
8 R1 = R2 = R3 = -OH
9 R1 = R3 = H; R2 = -OH
(i)
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11 (i)
12 R3
R3
13 R1 (iii) R2
(ii)
14 O R2
O
R2 OH
15 R1
OEt R1
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R3 4a: R1 = R2 = -OC10H21; R3 = H
17 5b: R1 = R2 = R3 = -OC10H21
4b: R1 = R2 = R3 = -OC10H21
7a: R1 = R2 = -OC10H21; R3 = H
18 7b: R1 = R2 = R3 = -OC10H21
19 7c: R1 = R3 = H; R2 = -OC10H21 (v)
20 R2 R1
21 (iv)
22 R3 3a: R1 = R2 = -OC10H21, R3 = H, X = NO2
23 3b: R1 = R2 = R3 = -OC10H21, X = NO2
R1
24 O
25 R2 X (vi)
26 OH
27 R3
28 2a: R1 = R2 = -OC10H21, R3 = H, X = NH2
6a: R1 = R2 = -OC10H21; R3 = H R3 2b: R1 = R2 = R3 = -OC10H21, X = NH2
29 6b: R1 = R2 = R3 = -OC10H21
30 6c: R1 = R3 = H; R2 = -OC10H21
R2 R1
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33 (vii)
R
34 R
R1 R2
35 R1 R
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O NH
38 O NH
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41 R R
42 R R
43 R R
44 R R
R R
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1c: R = -OC10H21, R1 = R2 = H
46 1a: R = -OC10H21, R1 = H 1d: R = R1 = -OC10H21, R2 = H
47 1b: R = R1 = -OC10H21 1e: R = R1= R2 = -OC10H21
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50 Scheme 2. Reagents and Conditions: i)1-Bromodecane, anhyd. K2CO3, DMF, 80 oC, 24h
51 (70-80%) ii) LAH, THF, 0 oC to rt, 12 h (75%); iii) PCC, DCM, rt, 4h (70-80%); iv) 10%
52 NaOH(aq), Ethanol, reflux, 6 h (76 - 80%); v) 3,5(bis((diethoxyphosphoryl)methyl)1-
53 nitrobenzene, NaH, dry THF, 0 oC - rt (53-60%); vi) Zn, HCOONH4, THF + Methanol (1:1),
54 1 h, rt (80-90%); vii) (a) (6a-c), SOCl2, DMF (catalytic), 4 h, reflux; (b) acid chlorides of
55 6a-c, dry THF, Et3N, 6 h, reflux (52 - 76%).
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3 protocol, (ii) 3,4,5-tridecyloxy benzaldehyde (4b) was synthesized, by the oxidation
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5 of 3,4,5-tridecyloxy benzyl alcohol (5b) using pyridiniumchlorochromate which in
6 turn was obtained by the reduction of ethyl 3,4,5-tridecyloxy benzoate (7b). The
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8 Wittig-Horner reaction of these benzaldehydes (4a-b) with the phosphonate ester (8)
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10 in the presence of NaH in THF at 0 oC furnished (E)-1,3-bis(3,4-bis(decyloxy)styryl)-
11 5-nitrobenzene (3a) and (E)-5-(3-(3,4,5-tris(decyloxy)styryl)-5-nitrostyryl)-1,2,3-
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13 tris(decyloxy)benzene (3b) respectively. These nitro products were converted to
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15 corresponding key amines, (E)-3,5- bis(3,4-bis(decyloxy)styrl) benzenamine (2a) and
16 (E)-3,5-bis(3,4,5-tris(decyloxy)styrl) benzenamine (2b) respectively. Finally, the
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18 aminostyryl compound 2a was subjected to react with 3,4-didecyloxy benzoyl
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20 chloride and 3,4,5-tridecyloxybenzoyl chloride to obtain the target molecules (1a) and
21 (1b) respectively. These acid chlorides were obtained by refluxing the corresponding
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23 acids 6a and 6b with SOCl2 in presence of catalytic amount of anhydrous DMF. The
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25 reaction mixture was subjected to distillation to remove the excess thionyl chloride to
26 furnish the acid chlorides and the residue obtained was used as such for the next step.
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28 Similarly the aminostyryl compound 2b was reacted with 3,4-didecyloxy benzoyl
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30 chloride and 3,4,5-tridecyloxy benzoyl chloride to obtain the target molecules (1d)
31 and (1e) respectively. 4-Decyloxybenzoyl chloride was reacted with aminostyryl
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33 compound 2b to give the target molecules 1c.
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36 Thermal behavior. The target molecules were probed for their thermal behavior with
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38 the help of polarizing optical microscopy (POM) and differential scanning
39
40 calorimetry (DSC). Further the nature of the mesophase is confirmed with the help of
41 X-ray diffraction (XRD) studies. The thermotropic LC behavior of the compounds is
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43 summarized in table 1. A comparison between the thermal behaviors of the
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45 compounds of the present series is furnished in Fig. 1.
46 Compound 1a containing two styrene units with a total of four alkoxy chains
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48 and one 3,4-di-n-decyloxy benzenecarboxamide connected to the central benzene ring
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50 (effectively six peripheral chains) turned out to be crystalline. Compound 1b, where
51 the benzene carboxamide is derived from 3,4,5-tri-n-decyloxy benzene carboxylic
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53 acid (seven peripheral chains in total) melts into a fluidic birefringent pattern at ≈ 89
54 o
55 C (∆H = 65.3 kJ/mol), after passing through a crystal to crystal transitions (Fig. 2c).
56 This spanned over a temperature range of 14 degrees before transforming into another
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3 mesophase at ≈ 102 oC (∆H = 10.5 kJ/mol). This birefringent texture then turns into
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5 an isotropic liquid at 126 oC.
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7 Table 1. Phase transition temperatures a (oC) and corresponding enthalpies (kJ/mol) of DLCs
8
9
10 Phase sequence
11 2nd Heating 1st Cooling
12 1a Cr 65 (155.7) I I 24.7 (168.1) Cr
13 1b Crc 88.6 (65.3) Colr 102 (10.5) I 117.1 (43.5) Colh 93 Colr 79.1
14 Colh 126 (39.3) I (3.2) Crd
15 1c Colh 111.9 (22.3) I I 110.2 (22.5) Colhb
16 1d Colh 109.1 (52.5) I I 107 (52) Colhb
17 1e Colh 77.5 (39.4) I I 75 (36.4) Colhb
18
19 a
Peak temperatures in the DSC thermograms obtained during the second heating and cooling cycles at
20 5 oC/min. bThe mesophase is not crystallizing up to -20 oC. Cr = Crystal phase; Colh = Columnar
21 hexagonal phase; Colr = Columnar rectangular phase; I = Isotropic phase. cThis crystalline state is
22 preceded by the following Cr-Cr transitions at 82.8 (18.7); dBelow this temperature there is another Cr-
23 Cr transition at 72.3 (75) Cr.
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25
3
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(c) Cr
W

27 (a)
)m

r
28

lC
Colh

o
29
p

I
u

1
30
exo

31 Cooling
0
w(

32 Heating
o

33
tfl

-
1
a

34
e
H

35 Colh I
r

Cr
-
2
C

36
lo

37
-
3
38 40 6
0 8 0 100 120
39 o
40 (b) Te
mpe
ra
tu
re( C
)
41 (d)
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45
46 Colh phase
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48 Colr phase
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50
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53
54 Figure 2. POM photograph of compound 1b at 95 oC (a) and at 90 oC (b); DSC scans
55 of first cooling (blue trace) and second heating (red trace) cycles of compound 1b (c);
56 XRD pattern obtained for compound 1b at 110 oC and 90 oC (d).
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Table 2. Results of (hkl) indexation of XRD profiles of the compounds at a given temperature (T) of
5
mesophase
6
Compounds Phase (T/oC) dobs(Å) dcal(Å) Miller Lattice parameters
7 (D/Å)a indices hkl (Å)
8 1b Colh (110) 28.7 28.7 100 a = 33.1
9 41.9 5.1 (ha)
10 Colr (90) 27.5 27.5 200 a = 55
11 23.8 23.8 110 b = 26.4
19.3 19.1 210
12
5.10 (ha)
13 1c Colh (80) 31.6 31.6 100 a = 36.5
14 18.5 18.2 110
15 40.9 15.7 15.8 200
16 4.9 (ha)
17 Colh (28) 32.2 32.2 100 a = 37.1
18.8 18.6 110
18 16 16.1 200
19 4.84 (ha)
20 1d Colh (80) 31.7 31.7 100 a = 36.5
21 18.2 18.3 110
22 (41.6) 15.7 15.8 200
4.9 (ha)
23
Colh (28) 32.7 32.7 100 a = 37.8
24 18.9 18.9 110
25 16.5 16.4 200
26 4.8 (ha)
27 1e Colh (50) 30.6 30.6 100 a = 35.4
28 17.7 17.7 110
(41) 15.4 15.3 200
29
4.9 (ha)
30
Colh (28) 31.6 31.6 100 a = 36.5
31 18.3 18.3 110
32 15.7 15.8 200
33 4.8 (ha)
34 a
35 The diameter (D) of the disk (estimated from Chem 3D Pro 8.0 molecular model software from Cambridge
Soft). dobs: spacing observed; dcal: spacing calculated (deduced from the lattice parameters; a for Colh phase).
36 The spacings marked ha correspond to diffuse reflections in the wide-angle region arising from correlations
37 between the alkyl chains.
38
39
40 Slow cooling of the isotropic liquid shows the emergence of spherulites from the dark
41
42
field of view and further cooling witnessed the widening and merging of these arms
43 with each other (Fig. 2a) to form a mosaic textures. Such textures are observed for
44
45 phases with reduced flexibility like smectic or columnar phases. The presence of
46
47
homeotropic domains points to the uniaxial nature of the mesophase, which is in line
48 with the proposed columnar hexagonal (Colh) phase as below. Powder XRD studies
49
50 on the sample was carried out at different temperature intervals on cooling from
51
52
isotropic liquid to understand the symmetry of the Col phase (Fig. S50). For the sake
53 of explanation we describe here the XRD patterns obtained at 110 oC and 90 oC
54
55 (Fig.2d and Table 2). The XRD pattern obtained at 110 oC and 90 oC showed a single
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57 diffused peak at wide angle (19o < 2θ < 26o) corresponding to the d-spacings of ≈ 5.1
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3 Å. This diffused peak corresponds to the packing of flexible peripheral tails in the
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5 liquid crystalline phase. Considering the presence of amide linkage which often leads
6 to decreased core-core distance due to intermolecular H-bonding, the absence of core-
7
8 core stacking reflection is quite surprising.34 The diffraction pattern obtained at 110
9 o
10 C showed a single sharp reflection at the low angle region (2o< 2θ< 7o) at a d-
11 spacings of 28.7 Å. This can be assigned to 100 reflection of a hexagonal lattice, with
12
13 a lattice parameter a = 33.1 Å. This corresponds to the intercolumnar distance and
14
15 found to be lesser than the calculated molecular diameter 41.9 Å. This points to an
16 interdigitation of the peripheral alkyl tails or due to the chain melting in liquid
17
18 crystalline state.
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21 The XRD patterns showed a transition at 93 oC where the 100 peak of Colh
22
phase splits into 200 and 110 reflections (see the SI). It should be noted that the
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24 transition was hard to detect by POM or DSC (Fig.S50 and Fig.2c). For example, the
25
26 XRD pattern at 90 oC (Fig. 2d) showed d-spacings of be 27.51 Å, 23.81 Å and 19.62
27
Å, which can be fitted into rectangular lattice with Miller indices of 200, 110, 210.
28
29 The lattice parameters of the rectangular unit cell was found to be a = 55 Å, b = 26.4
30
31 Å. The mesophase crystallizes around 80 oC.
32
Star shaped molecule 1c with two styrene units with a total of six alkoxy
33
34 chains and one 4-n-decyloxy benzene carboxamide connected to the central benzene
35
36 ring (effectively seven peripheral chains as in the case of compound 1b) exhibit a
37
38
room temperature mesophase, as identified by its fluid birefringent texture, sticky
39 nature of the sample and DSC. The mesophase converts to isotropic liquid at a
40
41 temperature of ≈112 oC (∆H = 22.3 kJ/mol). Slow cooling of isotropic liquid yields a
42
43
mosaic texture that is characteristic of Colh phase (Fig. 3a). The texture remains
44 unchanged till room temperature (Fig. 3b) and DSC scans did not show the sign of
45
46 crystallization till -20 oC and also in the subsequent heating cycles (Fig. 3c). Powder
47
48
XRD patterns obtained at 80 oC and room temperature (Fig. 3d) showed that the
49 symmetry of the Col phase is hexagonal in nature. The low angle region of the XRD
50
51 pattern obtained at 80 oC showed one intense reflection at a d-spacing of 31.6 Å and
52
two weak reflections centered at 18.5 Å and 15.7 Å. There was a diffused peak
53
54 corresponding to a d-spacing of 4.9 Å which arises from the packing of flexible
55
56 chains. The first three reflections at the low angle region can be indexed into 100, 110
57
58
and 200 reflections of a hexagonal lattice and the ratio of these spacing were 1:
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3 1/√3:1/√2. The hexagonal lattice constant ‘a’ was 36.5 Å, which is approximately
4
5 10% less than the molecular diameter, suggesting an interdigitation of peripheral alkyl
6 tails. The XRD pattern observed at room temperature was similar to the one observed
7
8 at high temperature with a marginal increase in the value of ‘a’. This must be
9
10 accounted for the stretching of alkyl tails on lowering the temperature. Compounds 1d
11 and 1e with eight and nine alkyl tails respectively stabilized room temperature Colh
12
13 phase as evidenced from POM textures (Fig.4), DSC and XRD studies (See Fig. S48,
14
15 S51, S52 and Table 2).
16
17
18 (a) (b)
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28 (d)
29 (c)
W

2
30
)m

31 Colh I
p

1
u

32
xo

33
e

Cooling
w(

34 0
o

35
tfl

Heating
a

36
e
H

-
1
37 Colh
38 I
-
2
39 -1
8 1
2 4
2 7
2 1
02
40 o
T
emp
er
atu
re( C
)
41 (deg)
42
43 Figure 3. POM photograph of compound 1c at 104 oC (a) and at 28 oC (b); DSC
44 scans of first cooling (blue trace) and second heating (red trace) cycles of compound
45 1c (c); XRD pattern obtained for compound 1c at 80 oC (red trace) and at 28 oC (black
46 trace), the inset shows the image patterns obtained (d).
47
48
49 A small decrease in the thermal range of the Colh phase was seen on moving from 1c
50
51 to 1d (from seven to eight alkyl chains) but a drastic decrease in the clearing
52
temperature was observed in the case of compound 1e with nine alkyl chains. Thus on
53
54 comparing the mesomorphic behavior of compounds 1b and 1c, it is evident that even
55
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4 (a) (b)
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16 Figure 4. POM photographs of Colh phases of compound 1d at 28 oC (a); and
17 compound 1e at 28 oC (b).
18
19
20 though both the molecules are having same number of alkyl chains, compound 1b
21 exhibit higher melting and clearing points in comparison to compound 1c. Further
22
23 increase in the number of alkyl tails on the benzene carboxamide moiety (for
24
25 compounds 1d and e) leads to a reduction in clearing temperature, as it may reduce
26 the core-core interaction of the star shaped molecule. It is interesting to note that a
27
28 minimum of seven flexible tails are necessary to exhibit liquid crystallinity as seen
29
30 from the thermal behavior of 1a, b and c, where compound 1a with five flexible tails
31 is crystalline, while compounds 1b and 1c, both compounds with seven flexible tails
32
33 turns to be liquid crystalline.
34
35
36 Photophysical and electrochemical studies
37
38
39 Photophysical properties of the star shaped stilbene amides 1a-e in
40
41 micromolar THF solution are represented in Table 3. Absorption and fluorescence
42
spectra of the compounds 1a-e were taken in THF (Fig. 5). As can be seen, the
43
44 absorption spectra for the solutions of hekates 1a-e showed a small variation in
45
46 absorption maxima varying from 317-333 nm, which may be due to their substitution
47
pattern. The series of molecules show large values of the molar absorption
48
49 coefficients, implying that these are highly conjugated systems (ε ≥ 39110 M-1cm-1).
50
51 The single absorption band of these systems is attributed to π-π* transition of the
52
double bond conjugated with aromatic system. Optical bandgaps of these systems
53
54 were calculated from the red edge of the absorption spectra were in the range of 3.17
55
56 – 3.24 eV. Emission spectra obtained by exciting the micromolar solutions of these
57
compounds at their absorption maxima did not show much variation and the emission
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3
(b)
4
5
6
7
8
9
(a)
10
11
12
13
14 ! "# ! $# ! %# ! &# ! ' #
15
16 (c)
17
1a 1b 1c 1d 1e
18
19
20
21
22 Figure 5. Normalized absorption (solid line) and emission spectra (dotted line) in
23 micromolar THF solution obtained for 1a-e (a); Normalized emission spectra of thin
24 films of compounds 1a-e (excited at the absorption maxima obtained in solution state)
25
(b); Images of the micromolar solutions (Left panel) and thin films (Right panel) of
26
27 compounds 1a-e under UV light of long wavelength (365 nm) (c).
28
29 Table 3. Photophysicala and electrochemical c properties of star shaped compounds 1a-e
30
31
32 Absorp Emission Stoke’s Quantum Absorptioni Emissioni ∆E g, opt d, e E1ox f EHOMO d, h ELUMO
b
tion (nm) shift yieldj (nm) d, g
33 (nm) (cm-1)
34 1a 332 406 5489 0.25 339 422 3.19 1.77 -6.11 -2.92
35 1b 333 407 5460 0.39 339 414 3.23 1.71 -6.05 -2.82
36 1c 327 407 6011 0.27 334 439 3.17 1.79 -6.13 -2.96
37 1d 317 407 6976 0.35 337 426 3.24 1.79 -6.13 -2.89
38 1e 328 412 6216 0.24 332 427 3.20 1.78 -6.12 -2.92
a
Micromolar solutions in THF. bExcited at the respective absorption maxima. cExperimental conditions: Micromolar DCM
39 solutions, Ag/AgNO3 as reference electrode, glassy carbon as working electrode, platinum rod as counter electrode, TBAP
40 (0.1 M) as a supporting electrolyte, room temperature. dIn electron volts (eV). eBand gap was determined from the red edge
41 of the longest wave length in the UV-Vis absorption spectra Eg (eV) = 1240/(wavelength in nm), 1a: 389 nm, 1b: 385 nm,
1c: 392 nm, 1d: 383 nm; 1e: 388 nm. fIn volts (V). gEstimated from the formula ELUMO = EHOMO + E g, opt. h Estimated from the
42 onset reduction peak values by using EHOMO= -(4.8 - E1/2,Fc,Fc+ +E ox, onset) eV. iin thin film. jRelative quantum yield calculated
43 with respect to quinine sulphate solution in 0.1 M H2SO4 with a quantum yield of 0.54.
44
45
46 maxima and was centered around 406-412 nm. We were interested to study the
47
emissive nature of these molecules in solid state. The thin films of the compounds
48
49 were prepared by annealing the isotropic liquids of the samples sandwiched between
50
51 the glass cover slips. They showed a red-shifted absorption and emission spectra
52
(Table 3, Fig.5b and Fig.S54), which points to the formation of aggregates. The red-
53
54 shifted absorption and emission spectra of the annealed thin films in comparison to
55
56 the respective spectra in micromolar solution state points to the formation of J-
57
aggregates.28 The solution and thin films exhibited a blue emission under the UV light
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1
2
3 of long wavelength (λ = 365 nm) (Fig. 5c). Quantum yields of these compounds were
4
5 measured with respect to quinine sulphate solution (in 0.1 M H2SO4, with quantum
6 yield of 0.54) were found to be in the range 0.25 to 0.39 (Table 3, Fig. S56).Energy
7
8 levels of frontier molecular orbitals (HOMO and LUMO) of the star shaped
9
10 molecules were obtained by cyclic voltammetry (CV) and the data are tabulated in
11 table 3. All the compounds exhibited irreversible oxidation and reduction waves (Fig.
12
13 S57). The optical band gap Eg, opt was estimated from the red edge of the absorption
14
15 spectra was found to be around 3.2 eV. Energy levels of LUMO and HOMO were
16 determined by using the formulae ELUMO = EHOMO + Eg, opt. and EHOMO= -(4.8 -
17
18 E1/2,Fc,Fc+ + E ox, onset) eV. Compounds 1a-e exhibited LUMO levels ranging from -2.82
19
20 to -2.96 eV and HOMO levels ranging from -6.05 to -6.13 eV.
21
22
23 Gelation studies. The compounds were investigated for their ability to aggregate in
24
25 solutions of n-hexane, n-decane, n-dodecane, n-hexadecane, chloroform,
26 dichloromethane, ethanol, dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO), tetrahydrofuran, benzene,
27
28 toluene and m-xylene. Compound 1a with six decyloxy chains and 1b with seven
29
30
31
32 (a)
33
34
35
36
37 (c)
38
39
1min 5min
40 10min

(b)
41
42 15min

43 (d) 20min 21min 22min


44 1min 5min 10min 15min
10min 15min
45
46 (e)
20min 21min 22min
47
48
49
50 Figure 6. Emission spectra showing an increase in the emission intensity with time on
51 gelation (5 mM, n-hexadecane)(a); Normalized emission spectra showing a red shift
52
on gelation (b); Plot showing the change in the emission intensity at λmax with respect
53
54 to time (c); Images showing the gel formation with respect to time in daylight (d);
55 Images showing the gel formation under the UV light (365 nm) with respect to time
56 (e).
57
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3 decyloxy chains (where the amide part contains three decyloxy chains), exhibited
4
5 gelation in n-hexadecane, while other compounds in this series did not show gelation.
6 It should be noted that compound 1a is crystalline,1b is liquid crystalline at higher
7
8 temperature, while other compounds 1c-e are room temperature liquid crystals, which
9
10 relates to the delicate balance of rigidity and fluidity required for the gelation. The
11 number and position of the alkoxy chains also matter in this self-assembly process.
12
13 This can be understood from the fact that compound 1b with seven decyloxy chains
14
15 stabilized the gel formation in n-hexadecane while compound 1c, which also possess
16 seven alkyl chains, but at different position was soluble. The gelation of compound 1b
17
18 was confirmed by the inversion of the glass vial (Fig. 6d, S58c, Table 2 and 3 in SI).
19
20 This compound was soluble in chloroform, dichloromethane and tetrahydrofuran,
21 while it precipitated in ethanol and DMSO. Compound 1b showed a low critical
22
23 gelation concentration (CGC) of 0.75 wt %. In literature it is well-known that the
24
25 molecules which undergo gelation at concentrations lower than 1 wt% are usually
26 classified as super gelators.30-31 The organogel was formed within 20 minutes after
27
28 dissolving in n-hexadecane (Fig.6c-e). The formation of gel was proved by
29
30 fluorescence spectroscopy by plotting the fluorescence intensity at λmax against the
31 time taken for gelation in minutes. The emission intensity increases with the time and
32
33 reaches saturation at 20 minutes (Fig. 6a-c). Visually this change is apparent on
34
35 irradiating the solution at these time intervals with the UV light of long wavelength (λ
36 = 365 nm) (Fig. 6e). Normalized emission spectra showed a red shift in the emission
37
38 maxima from 437 nm to 449 nm (a shift of 12 nm, Fig. 6b). Formation of organogel
39
40 was also confirmed by measuring the emission spectra of the solution on decreasing
41 temperature. The emission intensity increased on decreasing the temperature with a
42
43 red shift from 435 nm to 456 nm (Fig. S58a-c). In order to have a clear understanding,
44
45 we have overlapped the emission spectra of compound 1b at 20 µM , 5 mM (in
46 solution state) and 5 mM (in gel state) solutions in n-hexadecane. This solution at 5
47
48 mM concentration, showed a red-shifted emission maximum in comparison to the 20
49
50 µM solution (See SI, Fig.S53). On gelation, there is a huge increase (six fold) in the
51 luminescence intensity with a red-shifted emission maximum in comparison to the
52
53 solution state emission (Fig.S58a and Fig. S53). Thus this is a phenomenon of
54
55 aggregation induced emission, where the increase in concentration leading to
56 aggregation of fluorophores with a desired configuration to prevent the aggregation
57
58 quenching. The desired configuration could be achieved due to restricted
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3 intramolecular rotation (RIR) or by a favorable packing of molecules as a result of
4
5 gelation. This can be explained as follows. For the solution in CGC at room
6 temperature (at 5 mM), the molecules are present as aggregates, but with a very little
7
8 restriction imposed on their intramolecular rotation, which leads to the efficient
9
10 annihilation process associated with the active intramolecular rotation. Gel formation
11 and the decrease of temperature reinforce the RIR process, enhances the strength of
12
13 the H-bonding and activate the radiative decay leading to AIE effect.42 Other
14
15 possibility is that, the aggregates formed in the gel state have the molecules arranged
16 in a favorable packing to exhibit this phenomenon. This gel formation was reversible
17
18 for many cycles of heating and cooling as evidenced by the change in the emission
19
20 intensity (Fig. S58d).
21
22
23
24 (a) (b) (c)
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
!*#$ !,#$
33
34
35 !"#$ !%#$ !&#$
36
37
38
!' #$ !( #$ !)#$ !+#$
39
40
41
42
Figure 7. Normalized excitation and emission spectra of compound 1b in n-
43 hexadecane at 5mM (blue trace) and 20 µM (black trace) concentration (a); The
44 fluorescence decay of compound 1b in hexadecane at 5mM (red trace) and 20 µM
45 (blue trace) concentrations (black trace is instrument response function; λexc = 290
46 nm) (b); Dynamic light scattering curve observed for compound 1b in n-hexadecane
47 in micromolar concentration (c); Moldability of organogel of 1b in n-hexadecane (1.5
48 wt%) into different shapes as seen in day light: trigonal prism (d); cube (e); cylinder
49 (f); the same shapes under UV light (λ = 365 nm) (g), (h) and (i); ability to sustain the
50
weight (j); Photograph of gel after standing for 1 month in daylight and under UV
51
52
light (λ = 365 nm) (k); Plots of Tgel vs concentration for compound 1b in n-
53 hexadecane (l).
54
55 We were interested to study the emissive nature of compound 1b in gel state.
56
57
The solution at this concentration showed a red-shifted excitation and emission
58
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3 spectra (Fig.7a), in comparison to the respective spectra obtained in micromolar
4
5 solution state. This points to the formation of J-aggregates where the molecules are
6 arranged in a slip-stacked arrangement.41 Fluorescence lifetime studies to confirm the
7
8 presence of different species at these different concentrations (20 µM and 5mM
9
10 hexadecane solutions) were carried out by monitoring at their emission maxima (407
11 nm for dilute solution and 450 nm for concentrated solution). The solution with lower
12
13 concentration showed exponential decay with one excited species [T1 = 3.07 ns].
14
15 Thesolution with higher concentration showed the different excited state species, with
16 a lifetime of T1 = 4.11 ns (Fig.7b). The species with lower lifetime was a solvated
17
18 monomer, whereas the species with the higher lifetime is formed due to aggregation.
19
20 Dynamic light scattering studies at this concentration showed that the solution was
21 containing aggregates of 100-110 nm size (Fig. 7c). We have investigated the thermal
22
23 stability of the gel with respect to concentration by ‘dropping ball’ method,43 which
24
25 showed a gradual increase (Fig.7l) on increasing the concentration. The gel prepared
26 at 1.5 wt% concentration showed higher mechanical strength and found to be
27
28 moldable into any shape as shown in Fig.7d-i and the luminescence remained
29
30 unchanged. The gel kept in inverted position over a period of 15 days showed
31 enormous stability without showing any solvent leaching or collapse of architecture.
32
33 The gel under the UV light of long wavelength showed the blue emission (Fig. 7k).
34
35
36 !&#$
!"#$
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
!%#$ !' #$
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53 Figure 8. AFM images obtained for compound 1b at 1mM n-hexadecane solution
54 (scale bar is 1 µm) (a); at 1 x 10-5 M (scale bar is 780 nm) (b); Expanded regions of
55 figure 10b and showing the height profiles of the individual fibers (c); Expanded
56 regions of figure 10b and showing the thickness of an individual fiber (d).
57
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2
3
4
(a) (b)
5
6
7
8
9
10 100
11 200 600
12
13
14
15
Figure 9. POM image of the xerogel obtained for compound 1b (a); XRD pattern
16
17 obtained for the xerogel of compound 1b (b).
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41 Figure 10. Schematic showing the arrangement of compound 1b in the discotic
42 lamellar phase which is reinforced by intermolecular hydrogen bonding.
43
44
45
46
47 Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was carried out to understand the surface
48
49 morphology revealed that the entangled network of nanofibres with an average height
50
51 of 60 nm and thickness of 60-100 nm forms the gel (Fig. 8). The polarizing optical
52 image of the organogel showed a birefringent texture (Fig. 9a). This motivated us to
53
54 characterize its xerogel by powder X-ray diffraction studies to characterize the mode
55
56 of self-assembly. The thin film of the xerogel was formed by drop casting a 1 mM
57 solution on glass slide. The diffraction pattern in the thin film state did not provide the
58
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3 data which is helpful for the analysis of the self-assembly of the molecule 1b in the
4
5 xerogel state. Thus the film was scratched and the powder obtained was filled in
6 capillary tube and anlysed with XRD studies. XRD pattern of the xerogel (Fig. 9b,
7
8 Table 2 in SI) showed two small peaks at small angle region (2θ < 3o) corresponding
9
10 to the d spacings of 63.1 Å and 33.3 Å. The ratio of these two peaks is almost near to
11 1:0.5 and can be fitted into 100 and 200 reflections arising from lamellar (DL) phase,
12
13 which is rarely observed.44-47 Further in the middle angle region (2θ ≈ 8o) a small peak
14
15 corresponding to the d-spacing of 10.51 Å was observed which can be asigned to 600
16 reflection from lamellar phase. Additionally a diffused peak at wide-angle region (2θ
17
18 = 20.3o) corresponding to a d spacing of 4.38 Å was observed which corresponds to
19
20 the packing of alkyl tails (Fig. 9b). The d-spacing corresponding to the 100 reflection
21 is almost 50 % more than the molecular length (Fig.10). This corresponds to the
22
23 intercalation of alkyl tails from the neighbouring layers. The molecular arrangement is
24
25 reinforced by the intermolecular H-bonding as shown in Fig.10.
26
27
28 Conclusion
29
30
31 We have reported a new class of star shaped stilbene derivatives containing an
32
33 amide linkage which vary from each other with the number and position of the
34
35 flexible tails. This structural variation has showed a tremendous effect on the mode of
36 self-assembly. The compounds formed by the connection of dialkoxy styrene with a
37
38 benzene at 3 and 5 positions and a single amide linkage at 1 position of the central
39
40 benzene ring exhibited either a crystalline phase or a columnar phase, which
41 depended on the number of alkoxy tails in the amide unit. The compound with six
42
43 alkoxy tails (two alkoxy tails on the amide unit) was crystalline, while the compound
44
45 with seven alkoxy tails (three alkoxy tails on the amide unit) was bimesomorphic
46 showing hexagonal and rectangular columnar phase. These two compounds exhibited
47
48 gelation at very low concentration in n-hexadecane, to qualify them as supergelators.
49
50 The next set of compounds formed by connecting two trialkoxy styrene units and an
51 amide unit to a central benzene ring showed an improved thermal behavior. All the
52
53 compounds of this subset exhibited room temperature hexagonal phase, while the
54
55 increase in the number of flexible chains reduced the clearing temperature. These
56 compounds did not show gelation in hydrocarbon solvents as the first two compounds.
57
58 All the compounds exhibited blue luminescence in solution and thin film state. Red
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3 shifted absorption and emission of compounds in thin films suggested the formation
4
5 of J-type aggregates. Similar observation was found in the case of compound with
6 seven alkoxy tails (three alkoxy tails on the amide unit) confirming the presence of J-
7
8 aggregates in gel state. The gel formation was reversible for any number of cycles.
9
10 This compound at higher CGC formed a self-standing gel that can be molded into any
11 shape. More interestingly this compound showed aggregation induced blue light
12
13 emission.
14
15 The microscopic characterization of the gel showed a highly interwoven
16 network of fibers. Polarizing optical microscopy of the xerogel films showed a
17
18 birefringent texture, which is evidence to the anisotropic nature of self-assembly.
19
20 From XRD studies, it was found that these molecules self-assembled into a
21 intercalated lamellar phase. Considering the scarcity of wide band gap, solid-state
22
23 blue light emitting organic materials, these star shaped molecules are promising, due
24
25 to their emissive nature in the aggregated state and columnar self-assembly. They are
26 promising towards the development of solid state displays.
27
28
29
30 Acknowledgements
31
32
33
ASA sincerely thanks Science and Engineering Board (SERB), DST, Govt. of India
34 and BRNS-DAE for funding this work through project No. SB/S1/PC-37/2012 and
35
36 No.2012/34/31/BRNS/1039 respectively. We thank the Ministry of Human Resource
37
38
Development for Centre of Excellence in FAST (F. No. 5-7/2014-TS-VII). ASA
39 acknowledges CIF, IIT Guwahati for analytical facilities. We acknowledge Dr.
40
41 Chandan Mukherjee for providing his Electrochemical workstation.
42
43
44 References
45
46
1. Terech, P.; Weiss, R. G. Low Molecular Mass Gelators of Organic Liquids and
47
48 the Properties of Their Gels. Chem. Rev. 1997, 97, 3133.
49 2. Chandrasekhar, S.; Sadashiva, B. K.; Suresh, K. A. Liquid crystals of disc-like
50 molecules. Pramana 1977, 9, 471.
51
52 3. O’Neill, M.; Kelly, S. M. Ordered Materials for Organic Electronics and
53 Photonics. Adv. Mater. 2011, 23, 566–584.
54 4. Jones, B. A.; Ahrens, M. J.; Yoon, M.-H.; Facchetti, A.; Marks, T. J.;
55 Wasielewski, M. R. High-Mobility Air-Stable n-Type Semiconductors with
56
57 Processing Versatility: Dicyanoperylene-3,4:9,10-bis(dicarboximides). Angew.
58 Chem., Int. Ed. 2004, 43, 6363–6366.
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3 5. Hesse, H. C.; Weickert, J.; Al-Hussein, M.; Do¨ssel, L.; Feng, X.; Mullen, K.;
4 Mende, L. S. Discotic materials for organic solar cells: Effects of chemical
5
6 structure on assembly and performance. Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 2010, 94,
7 560–567.
8 6. Li, Q. Self-Organized Semiconductors: From Materials to Device Applications,
9 John Wiley & Sons, New York, 2011.
10
11 7. Schmidt Mende, L.; Fechtenkotter, A.; Mullen, K.; Moons, E.; Friend, R. H.;
12 Mackenzie, J. D. Self-organized discotic liquid crystals for high-efficiency
13 organic photovoltaics. Science 2001, 293, 1119.
14
15
8. Wöhrle, T.; Wurzbach, I.; Kirres, J.; Kostidou, A.; Kapernaum, N.;
16 Litterscheidt, J.; Haenle, J. C.; Staffeld, P.; Baro, A.; Giesselmann, F.; Laschat,
17 S. Discotic Liquid Crystals, Chem Rev. 2016, 116, 1139–1241.
18 9. Sergeyev, S.; Pisula, W.; Geerts, Y. H. Discotic liquid crystals: a new
19
20 generation of organic semiconductors Chem Soc Rev. 2007, 36, 1902–1929.
21 10. Detert, H.; Lehmann, M.; Meier, H. Star-Shaped Conjugated Systems.
22 Materials 2010, 3, 3218–3330.
23
11. Lehman, M. Star Mesogens (Hekates)—Tailor-Made Molecules for
24
25 Programming Supramolecular Functionality. Chem. Eur. J. 2009, 15,
26 3638−3651.
27 12. Lehman, M. Handbook of Liquid Crystals, 2nd ed. Vol. 5, p. 243.
28
29 13. Wöhrle, T.; Beardsworth, S. J.; Schilling, C.; Baro, A.; Giesselmann, F.;
30 Laschat, S. Columnar propeller-like 1,3,5-triphenylbenzenes: the missing link of
31 shape-persistent hekates, Soft Matter 2016, 12, 3730-3736.
32 14. Percec, V.; Glodde, M.; Bera, T. K.; Miura, Y.; Shiyanovskaya, I.; Singer, K.
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34 D.; Balagurusamy, V. S. K.; Heiney, P. A.; Schnell, I.; Rapp, A.; Spiess, H. W.;
35 Hudson, S. D.; Duan, H. Self-organization of supramolecular helical dendrimers
36 into complex electronic materials. Nature 2002, 419, 384−387.
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