Ultrafast motion in a third generation photomolecular motor

Palas Roy, Wesley R. Browne, Ben L. Feringa, Stephen R. Meech

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Controlling molecular translation at the nanoscale is a key objective for development of synthetic molecular machines. Recently developed third generation photochemically driven molecular motors (3GMs), comprising pairs of overcrowded alkenes capable of cooperative unidirectional rotation offer the possibility of converting light energy into translational motion. Further development of 3GMs demands detailed understanding of their excited state dynamics. Here we use time-resolved absorption and emission to track population and coherence dynamics in a 3GM. Femtosecond stimulated Raman reveals real-time structural dynamics as the excited state evolves from a Franck-Condon bright-state through weakly-emissive dark-state to the metastable product, yielding new insight into the reaction coordinate. Solvent polarity modifies the photoconversion efficiency suggesting charge transfer character in the dark-state. The enhanced quantum yield correlates with suppression of a low-frequency flapping motion in the excited state. This detailed characterization facilitates development of 3GMs, suggesting exploitation of medium and substituent effects to modulate motor efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1253
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2023

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