Molecular origins of optoelectronic properties in coumarin dyes: Toward designer solar cell and laser applications

Xiaogang Liu, Jacqueline M Cole, Paul G Waddell, Tze-Chia Lin, Jignesh Radia, Anita Zeidler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

240 Citations (SciVal)


Coumarin derivatives are used in a wide range of applications, such as dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) and dye lasers, and have therefore attracted considerable research interest. In order to understand the molecular origins of their optoelectronic properties, molecular structures for 29 coumarin laser dyes are statistically analyzed. To this end, data for 25 compounds were taken from the Cambridge Structural Database and compared with data for four new crystal structures of coumarin laser dyes [Coumarin 487 (C19H23NO2), Coumarin 498 (C16H17NO4S), Coumarin 510 (C20H18N2O2), and Coumarin 525 (C22H18N2O3)], which are reported herein. The competing contributions of different resonance states to the bond lengths of the 4- and 7-substituted coumarin laser dyes are computed based on the harmonic oscillator stabilization energy model. Consequently, a positive correlation between the contribution of the para-quinoidal resonance state and the UV–vis peak absorption wavelength of these coumarins is revealed. Furthermore, the perturbations of optoelectronic properties, owing to chemical substituents in these coumarin laser dyes, are analyzed: it is found that their UV–vis peak absorption and lasing wavelengths experience a red shift, as the electron-donating strength of the 7-position substituent increases and/or the electron-withdrawing strength of the 3- or 4-position substituent rises; this conclusion is corroborated by quantum-chemical calculations. It is also revealed that the closer the relevant substituents align with the direction of the intramolecular charge transfer (ICT), the larger the spectral shifts and the higher the molar extinction coefficients of coumarin laser dyes. These findings are important for understanding the ICT mechanism in coumarins. Meanwhile, all structure–property correlations revealed herein will enable knowledge-based molecular design of coumarins for dye lasers and DSC applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-737
Number of pages11
JournalThe Journal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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