Phototunable Absorption and Nonlinear Optical Properties of Thermally Stable Dihydroazulene-Vinylheptafulvene Photochrome Pair


The UV-vis absorption characteristics and nonlinear optical properties of a series of substituted dihydroazulene (DHA)/vinylheptafulvene (VHF) photoswitches are investigated by applying quantum calculations. Introduction of substituents at the seven-membered ring resulted in significant changes in their absorption properties depending on the nature and position of the substituent. Electron-donating groups at positions 5, 6, 7, and 8 generally exhibited red shifts with respect to the parent compound. However, the steric effect at positions 8a and 4 is responsible for the loss of planarity and conjugation, which generally leads to blue shifts. In contrast, any electron-withdrawing group, particularly at positions 8a and 4, would cause a blue shift. The presence of bulky groups at position 8a results in a loss of planarity and, as a result, a decrease in electronic conjugation within the molecule, resulting in a blue shift in the maximum absorption. When it comes to halogens, the red shift is directly correlated to the nucleophilicity; the higher the nucleophilicity, the larger the red shift. Regarding hyperpolarizability, the charge separation induces higher hyperpolarizabilities for all substituted VHFs compared to the corresponding DHAs, resulting in a much higher NLO response. In addition, for all DHA and VHF, the highest values of hyperpolarizabilities are calculated for 6-substituted systems. Finally, the objective of this detailed theoretical investigation is to continue exploring the photophysical properties of DHA-VHF through structural modifications.

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