"Tuning the ground and excited state dynamics of hemithioindigo molecular motors by substituents"R. Wilcken, L. Huber, K. Grill, M. Guentner, M. Schildhauer, S. Thumser, E. Riedle, and H. Dube
Chem. Eur. J., 26, 13507 - 13512 (2020).
Efficiency and performance of light triggered molecular motors are crucial features that need to be mechanistically understood to improve the performance and enable conscious property tailoring for specific applications. In this work, three different hemithioindigo‐based molecular motors are investigated and all four steps in their complete unidirectional rotation are unraveled fully quantitatively. Transient absorption spectroscopy across twelve orders of magnitude in time is used to probe the fs nuclear motions up to the ms thermal kinetics, covering the timeframe of the whole motor rotation. The newly known full mechanisms allow simulation of the motor systems to scrutinize their performance at realistic illumination conditions. This highlights the importance of photoisomerization quantum yields for the rotation speed. The substitution pattern in close proximity to the rotation axle influences the excited and ground state properties. Reduction of electron donation and concomitant increase of steric hindrance leads to faster photoisomerization reactions with quasi‐ballistic behavior, but also to a slight decrease in the quantum efficiency. The expected decelerating effects of increased sterics are primarily manifested in the ground state. A promising approach for next‐generation hemithioindigo motors is to elevate electron donation at the rotor fragment followed by an increase of steric hindrance.
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