We just posted a preprint discussing a question I have been wondering about for a while: Why is the lowest excited state of a molecule not always the HOMO/LUMO transition? More generally we show how singlet and triplet state energies are affected in different ways by post-MO energy terms.
Kasha’s rule states that fluorescence generally occurs from the lowest excited singlet state (S1). Exceptions to this rule are usually associated with a metastable S2 state that is separated from S1 not allowing for interconversion. In a recent article we outlined a different mechanism for non-Kasha fluorescence: If S1 and S2 are very close in energy, then S2 is populated in a dynamic equilibrium following Boltzmann statistics. This effect is particularly pronounced if there is a large amount of vibrational excess energy following excitation into a high-energy absorption peak. The full story, “Non-Kasha fluorescence of pyrene emerges from a dynamic equilibrium between excited states” was just published in J. Chem. Phys.
We were interested in understanding the difference in thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) between two closely related donor-acceptor-donor systems using either an anthraquinone and benzodithiophenedione acceptor units, respectively. The first one was known to be an effective TADF emitter [JACS2014, 136, 18070] whereas the second one had significantly lower quantum yield for TADF [PCCP2019, 21, 10580].
Rather than just presenting energies, it was the purpose of this paper to shed detailed insight into the wavefunctions involved. Notable differences in the wavefunctions and charge-transfer character were found between the two molecules. Even more striking differences existed between different computational methods.
After evaluating electronic structure methods, we presented geometry optimisations in solution, highlighting the importance of symmetry breaking for producing an emissive lowest singlet state. The role of different solvation models was discussed as well.
The main idea behind this work is to use symmetry-selection rules and the associated forbidden transitions to probe how inversion symmetry is broken during the photodynamics. See [JPCL 2021, 12, 4067] for an initial discussion of the idea.