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Revealing the spin–vibronic coupling mechanism of thermally activated delayed fluorescence

Lookup NU author(s): Jamie Gibson, Professor Thomas Penfold



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Knowing the underlying photophysics of thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) allows proper design of high efficiency organic light-emitting diodes. We have proposed a model to describe reverse intersystem crossing (rISC) in donor–acceptor charge transfer molecules, where spin–orbit coupling between singlet and triplet states is mediated by one of the local triplet states of the donor (or acceptor). This second order, vibronically coupled mechanism describes the basic photophysics of TADF. Through a series of measurements, whereby the energy ordering of the charge transfer (CT) excited states and the local triplet are tuned in and out of resonance, we show that TADF reaches a maximum at the resonance point, substantiating our model of rISC. Moreover, using photoinduced absorption, we show how the populations of both singlet and triplet CT states and the local triplet state change in and out of resonance. Our vibronic coupling rISC model is used to predict this behaviour and describes how rISC and TADF are affected by external perturbation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Etherington M, Gibson J, Higginbotham HF, Penfold TJ, Monkman AP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Communications

Year: 2016

Volume: 7

Online publication date: 30/11/2016

Acceptance date: 25/10/2016

Date deposited: 01/12/2016

ISSN (electronic): 2041-1723

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13680


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Funder referenceFunder name
641725EU's Horizon