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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry, and Earth Sciences

Macromolecular Chemistry I:

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Maier, J.; Weller, T.; Thelakkat, M.; Köhler, J.: Long-term switching of single photochromic triads based on dithienylcyclopentene and fluorophores at cryogenic temperatures, Journal of Chemical Physics, 155, 014901 (2021) -- DOI: 10.1063/5.0056815
Photochromic molecules can be reversibly converted between two bistable forms by light. These systems have been intensively studied for applications as molecular memories, sensing devices, or super-resolution optical microscopy. Here, we study the long-term switching behavior of single photochromic triads under oxygen-free conditions at 10 K. The triads consist of a photochromic unit that is covalently linked to two strong fluorophores that were employed for monitoring the light-induced conversions of the switch via changes in the fluorescence intensity from the fluorophores. As dyes we use either perylene bisimide or boron-dipyrromethen, and as photochromic switch we use dithienylcyclopentene (DCP). Both types of triads showed high fatigue resistance allowing for up to 6000 switching cycles of a single triad corresponding to time durations in the order of 80 min without deterioration. Long-term analysis of the switching cycles reveals that the probability that an intensity change in the emission from the dyes can be assigned to an externally stimulated conversion of the DCP (rather than to stochastic blinking of the dye molecules) amounts to 0.7 ± 0.1 for both types of triads. This number is far too low for optical data storage using single triads and implications concerning the miniaturization of optical memories based on such systems will be discussed. Yet, together with the high fatigue resistance, this number is encouraging for applications in super-resolution optical microscopy on frozen biological samples.
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