Supramolecular Structure of TTBC J-Aggregates in Solution and on Surface
H. v. Berlepsch and C. Böttcher – 2013
The aggregation behavior of cationic 5,5',6,6'-tetrachloro-1,1',3,3'-tetraethylbenzimidacarbocyanine with chloride (TTBC-Cl) or iodide counterions (TTBC-I) in aqueous solution is investigated by absorption, linear dichroism, and fluorescence spectroscopies, as well as cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). TTBC-Cl is found to form J-aggregates with a classical Davydov-split absorption band (type I spectrum) even under different preparation conditions. These aggregates remain stable for months. Unlike the chloride salt, the iodide salt TTBC-I forms two different types of J-aggregates depending on the pH of the aqueous solution. The TTBC-I aggregates prepared in pure water (pH = 6) are characterized by a single redshifted absorption band (type III spectrum), whereas those prepared in alkaline solution at pH = 13 show a typical Davydov-split (type I) absorption band. Despite differences in counterions, preparation method, stability, and spectroscopic behavior, cryo-TEM reveals an identical tubular architecture for all these J-aggregates. Among the new structure models discussed here is a cylindrical brickwork layer of dye molecules for single-banded J-aggregates (type III). For Davydov-split aggregates (type I), a molecular herringbone-like pattern is proposed instead. Moreover, absorption spectra have revealed an additional single redshifted absorption band (type II spectrum) that is assigned to a surface aggregate and is induced by a specific interaction of the dye cation with the negatively charged cuvette wall. AFM measurements of analogous preparations on negatively charged mica surfaces have supported this interpretation and revealed the formation of monolayered sheet structures.