Electron transfer from a new chalcone dye to TiO2 nanoparticles: Synthesis, photophysics, and excited-state dynamics

Published: 2022
Journal of Molecular Structure 1271


Efficient electron injection from photosensitizers to semiconductor nanoparticles is essential in many ap- plications such as solar energy harvesting and catalytic reactions. Herein, we present a promising pho- tosensitizer, 4-dimethylamino-2 -hydroxy-4 -carboxychalcone (DHC-COOH), that upon adsorption on TiO 2 nanoparticles shows enhanced electron transfer from its excited state to the conduction band (CB) of TiO 2 via an intramolecular charge transfer (ICT). In order to fully characterize the current system, three more derivatives were synthesized and characterized, its analogue without the COOH group (DHC), and the molecules without the OH group (DC and DC-COOH). The presence of OH causes a red shift in the absorption and fluorescence spectra, whereas the COOH group induces more red shift due to efficient ICT which is also seen in the density functional theory calculations. Excited-state intramolecular proton trans- fer is evident in the crystalline/solid form of DHC and DHC-COOH as a large red shift in the fluorescence peak. The red shift was not observed when DHC-COOH was adsorbed on the TiO 2 surface due to the in- volvement of the OH group in binding. This was confirmed by XPS, in addition to a bidentate binding of the COOH group to TiO 2 . The latter has a major contribution to the electron transfer mechanism which was observed as a much weaker fluorescence intensity and a 50% reduction in the lifetime component that involves the COOH dynamic (from 63 ps to 32 ps). On the other hand, electron-hole recombination dynamics were slowed down on the TiO 2 surface (from 311 ps to 440 ps and 1.4 ns to 2.4 ns). From cyclic voltammetry and steady state spectra, it was found that electron injection from the excited state of the dye to the CB of TiO 2 is energetically favorable, and regeneration of the oxidized dye by the I −/I 3 −redox pair (used in dye-sensitized solar cells) is also possible.

A. Ramadan Ibrahim
Balqees S. Al-Saadi
John Husband
AhmedH. Ismail
Younis Baqi
Osama K. Abou-Zied