Zeolite Microcrystals as Hosts for Supramolecular Organization of Dye Molecules

Gion Calzaferri
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Bern, Freiestrasse 3, CH-3000 Bern 9, Switzerland


Zeolite microcrystals can act as host for supramolecular organization of molecules, complexes, clusters and quantum size particles. They allow the design of precise and reversible functionalities. Techniques for arranging zeolite microcrystals of good quality and narrow size distribution as dense monograin layers on different substrates can be used to realize specific properties. The chemical reactivity between the intercalated molecules offer possibilities for in situ synthesis of molecular chains, clusters and quantum size particles which might not be accessible otherwise. In some cases guest-host reactivity must be considered. The reactivity of intercalated compounds with (small) molecules penetrating from the outside is an option for changing the composition of a material, i.e. molecules intercalated as monomers in a first step can be linked to form chains. New electronic structures are accessible either by specific geometrical arrangements made possible by the structure of the host and/or by explicitly involving its electronic properties. Some systems meet the conditions necessary for the occurrence of intrazeolite charge transport (ionic and electronic), realized by the guests in their ground state and in electronically excited states under high vacuum conditions or in the presence of a solvent, depending on the composition and the structure of the material. In this article I focus on organic dye molecules in the one-dimensional channels of zeolites with a hexagonal framework. This system consists of supramolecularly organized dye molecules. It is shown to provide fascinating possibilities for building an artificial antenna device which consists of highly concentrated monomeric dye molecules of up to 0.4 M with a large Förster energy transfer radius and a high luminescence quantum yield in an ideal geometrical arrangement of optimal size. Extremely fast electronic excitation energy transport has been demonstrated by us in oxonine and pyronine dye loaded zeolite L microcrystals. Many other highly organized dye/zeolite materials can be prepared and they are expected to show a wide variety of challenging properties. We report on methods to distinguish between dye molecules which are inside of a microcrystal and those adsorbed on its outer surface and we explain a demonstration experiment illustrating the intercalation of thionine into zeolite L and the thus resulting improved chemical stability of this dye.

published in: CHIMIA 1998, 52, 525.

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