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Singlet fission (SF), an exciton-doubling process observed in certain molecular semiconductors where two triplet excitons are generated from one singlet exciton, requires correctly tuned intermolecular coupling to allow separation of the two triplets to different molecular units. We explore this using DNA-encoded assembly of SF-capable pentacenes into discrete π-stacked constructs of defined size and geometry. Precise structural control is achieved via a combination of the DNA duplex formation between complementary single-stranded DNA and the local molecular geometry that directs the SF chromophores into a stable and predictable slip-stacked configuration, as confirmed by molecular dynamics (MD) modeling. Transient electron spin resonance spectroscopy revealed that within these DNA-assembled pentacene stacks, SF evolves via a bound triplet pair quintet state, which subsequently converts into free triplets. SF evolution via a long-lived quintet state sets specific requirements on intermolecular coupling, rendering the quintet spectrum and its zero-field-splitting parameters highly sensitive to intermolecular geometry. We have found that the experimental spectra and zero-field-splitting parameters are consistent with a slight systematic strain relative to the MD-optimized geometry. Thus, the transient electron spin resonance analysis is a powerful tool to test and refine the MD-derived structure models. DNA-encoded assembly of coupled semiconductor molecules allows controlled construction of electronically functional structures, but brings with it significant dynamic and polar disorders. Our findings here of efficient SF through quintet states demonstrate that these conditions still allow efficient and controlled semiconductor operation and point toward future opportunities for constructing functional optoelectronic systems.

Original publication




Journal article


J Am Chem Soc

Publication Date





5431 - 5438


DNA, DNA, Single-Stranded, DNA Replication, Cytoskeleton