Structure Prediction of Self-Assembled Dye Aggregates from Cryogenic Transmission Electron Microscopy, Molecular Mechanics, and Theory of Optical Spectra
C. Friedl, T. Renger, H. v. Berlepsch, K. Ludwig, M. Schmidt am Busch and J. Megow – 2016
Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) studies suggest that TTBC molecules self-assemble in aqueous solution to form single-walled tubes with a diameter of about 35 Å. In order to reveal the arrangement and mutual orientations of the individual molecules in the tube, we combine information from crystal structure data of this dye with a calculation of linear absorbance and linear dichroism spectra and molecular dynamics simulations. We start with wrapping crystal planes in different directions to obtain tubes of suitable diameter. This set of tube models is evaluated by comparing the resulting optical spectra with experimental data. The tubes that can explain the spectra are investigated further by molecular dynamics simulations, including explicit solvent molecules. From the trajectories of the most stable tube models, the short-range ordering of the dye molecules is extracted and the optimization of the structure is iteratively completed. The final structural model is a tube of rings with 6-fold rotational symmetry, where neighboring rings are rotated by 30° and the transition dipole moments of the chromophores form an angle of 74° with respect to the symmetry axis of the tube. This model is in agreement with cryo-TEM images and can explain the optical spectra, consisting of a sharp red-shifted J-band that is polarized parallel to to the symmetry axis of the tube and a broad blue-shifted H-band polarized perpendicular to this axis. The general structure of the homogeneous spectrum of this hybrid HJ-aggregate is described by an analytical model that explains the difference in redistribution of oscillator strength inside the vibrational manifolds of the J- and H-bands and the relative intensities and excitation energies of those bands. In addition to the particular system investigated here, the present methodology can be expected to aid the structure prediction for a wide range of self-assembled dye aggregates.