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Colour-tunable ultra-long organic phosphorescence of a single-component molecular crystal


Materials exhibiting long-lived, persistent luminescence in the visible spectrum are useful for applications in the display, information encryption and bioimaging sectors1,2,3,4. Herein, we report the development of several organic phosphors that provide colour-tunable, ultra-long organic phosphorescence (UOP). The emission colour can be tuned by varying the excitation wavelength, allowing dynamic colour tuning from the violet to the green part of the visible spectrum. Our experimental data reveal that these organic phosphors can have an ultra-long lifetime of 2.45 s and a maximum phosphorescence efficiency of 31.2%. Furthermore, we demonstrate the applications of colour-tunable UOP for use in a multicolour display and visual sensing of ultraviolet light in the range from 300 to 360 nm. The findings open the opportunity for the development of smart luminescent materials and sensors with dynamically controlled phosphorescence.

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Fig. 1: Schematic representation for the manipulation of colour-tunable UOP.
Fig. 2: Photoluminescence characterization of TMOT crystalline powder under ambient conditions.
Fig. 3: Mechanistic investigation of colour-tunable UOP in single-component crystals under ambient conditions.
Fig. 4: Phosphorescence properties and crystal structures of DMOT and CYAD crystalline powder under ambient conditions.
Fig. 5: Demonstration of colour-tunable UOP for multicolour display and visual detection of ultraviolet light under ambient conditions.

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21875104, 51673095, 91833304, 91833302 and 61605074), National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program, No. 2015CB932200), Natural Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars of Jiangsu Province (BK20180037), the Natural Science Fund for Colleges and Universities (17KJB430020) of Jiangsu Province, and Nanjing Tech Start-up Grant (3983500158 and 3983500169). We are grateful to the High Performance Computing Center of Nanjing Tech University for technical support.

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Authors and Affiliations



L.G., H.S., Z.A., X.L. and W.H. conceived the experiments. H.S., Z.A., X.L. and W.H. wrote the manuscript. L.G., H.S., L.B., M.G., S.W., Y.G., W.Y. and F.H. were primarily responsible for the experiments. K.L. and L.F. measured the quantum efficiency. X.W., S.W. and H.W. performed the lifetime measurements. S.C., W.N. and Y.T. conducted the single-crystal measurement and analysis. H.M. contributed to TD-DFT calculations. All authors contributed to the data analyses.

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Correspondence to Zhongfu An, Xiaogang Liu or Wei Huang.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Additional photophysical properties and theoretical calculations.

Supplementary Video 1

Demonstration of colour switching of the emission from the TMOT compound.

Supplementary Video 2

Visible blue phosphorescence from the TMOT compound.

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Gu, L., Shi, H., Bian, L. et al. Colour-tunable ultra-long organic phosphorescence of a single-component molecular crystal. Nat. Photonics 13, 406–411 (2019).

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