Tunable and Switchable Control of Luminescence through Multiple Physical Stimulations in Aggregation-Based Monocomponent Systems

This report describes how the luminescence of naphthalimide could be tuned by various physical stimuli, including heat, sonication, and grinding. Herein, instant and switchable control of color and fluorescent emissions has been achieved by the sonication-triggered gelation of an organic liquid with naphthalimide-based organogelators (N3N7). Green emissive suspensions of the gelators in organic liquids are transformed into orange emissive gels upon brief irradiation with ultrasound with an emission wavelength red-shift of approximately 60 nm and fluorescence intensity quenching by a factor of 20, which can subsequently be reversed by heating. When sonication-triggered S-gels are evaporated to S-xerogels, the solid state xerogels (N3, N4, N6, N7) exhibit mechanochromism, the color of which changes from red to yellow and the emission color of which changes from orange to green with enhanced intensity by grinding. This mechanochromic property can be reversed through a regelation process. The mechanochromic character of the S-xerogel of N3 is thus applied to quantitatively sense the mechanical pressure range from 2 to 40 MPa through fluorescence changes, reflecting a new type of application for gelation assembly. The physical stimuli triggered fluorescence changes of these compounds strongly depend on the molecular structure and solvent. The results demonstrate that the different aggregation modes and long-range order arrangement of the molecules regulated by the stimulus may affect the internal charge transfer (ICT) process of the naphthalimide groups, resulting in the tunability of the photophysical properties of the gelators. This report provides a new strategy for tunable and switchable control of luminescence through nonchemical stimuli in aggregation-based monocomponent systems.