Effect of side-chain substituents on self-assembly of perylene diimide molecules: Morphology control

Kaushik Balakrishnan, Aniket Datar, Tammene Naddo, Jialing Huang, Randy Oitker, Max Yen, Jincai Zhao, Ling Zang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

586 Scopus citations


Effect of side-chain substitutions on the morphology of self-assembly of perylene diimide molecules has been studied with two derivatives modified with distinctly different side-chains, N,N-di(dodecyl)-perylene-3,4,9,10- tetracarboxylic diimide (DD-PTCDI) and N,N-di(nonyldecyl)-perylene-3,4,9,10- tetracarboxylic diimide (ND-PTCDI). Due to the different side-chain interference, the self-assembly of the two molecules results in totally different morphologies in aggregate: one-dimensional (1D) nanobelt vs zero-dimensional (OD) nanoparticle. The size, shape, and topography of the self-assemblies were extensively characterized by a variety of microscopies including SEM, TEM, AFM, and fluorescence microscopy. The distinct morphologies of self-assembly have been obtained from both the solution-based processing and surface-supported solvent-vapor annealing. The nanobelts of DD-PTCDI fabricated in solution can feasibly be transferred to both polar (e.g., glass) and nonpolar (e.g., carbon) surfaces, implying the high stability of the molecular assembly (due to the strong π-π stacking). The side-chain-dependent molecular interaction was comparatively investigated using various spectrometries including UV-vis absorption, fluorescence, X-ray diffraction, and differential scanning calorimetry. Compared to the emission of ND-PTCDI aggregate, the emission of DD-PTCDI aggregate was significantly red-shifted (ca. 30 nm) and the emission quantum yield decreased about three times, primarily due to the more favorable molecular stacking for DD-PTCID. Moreover, the aggregate of DD-PTCDI shows a pronounced absorption band at the longer wavelength, whereas the absorption of ND-PTCDI aggregate is not significant in the same wavelength region. These optical spectral observations are reminiscent of the previous theoretical investigation on the side-chain-modulated electronic properties of PTCDI assembly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7390-7398
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 7 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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