In addition to the commonly observed single molecule fluorescence intensity fluctuations due to molecular reorientation dynamics, a perylene bisimide-calixarene compound (1) shows additional on-off fluctuations due to its ability to undergo intramolecular excited state electron transfer (PET). This quenching process is turned on rather sharply when a film of poly(vinylacetate) containing 1 is heated above its glass transition temperature (T g), which indicates that the electron transfer process depends on the availability of sufficient free volume. Spatial heterogeneities cause different individual molecules to reach the electron transfer regime at different temperatures, but these heterogeneities also fluctuate in time: in the matrix above T g molecules that are mostly nonfluorescent due to PET can become fluorescent again on timescales of seconds to minutes.
The two different mechanisms for intensity fluctuation, rotation and PET, thus far only observed in compound 1, make it a unique probe for the dynamics of supercooled liquids.
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