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Assistant Professor of Chemistry Jean-Luc Ayitou’s Innovative Photon Upconversion Research Published

Illinois Tech Assistant Professor of Chemistry A. Jean-Luc AyitouAssistant Professor of Chemistry A. Jean-Luc Ayitou has published the article “Photon Upconversion Using Baird-Type (Anti)Aromaticity Quinoidal Naphthalene Derivative as a Sensitizer” in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C.

Photon upconversion is the conversion of low-energy radiation to higher energy light particles. Ayitou led the team that devised a novel anti-aromatic light-harvesting sensitizer or antenna, which they employed to collect low-energy photons.

In photon upconversion research, the design of sets of sensitizers and emitters that are photophysical complementary is paramount to achieving higher yields in upconverted light particles. According to Ayitou, upconversion is an elegant and sustainable photon management approach that could help maximize the efficiency of current photovoltaic (PV) devices, or solar cells that can absorb light and produce electricity.

One of the central research themes in Ayitou’s lab is the synthesis of novel C2–symmetric polycyclic anti-aromatic chromophores which exhibit attractive light-harvesting and photophysical characteristics. Ayitou is exploiting the outstanding photophysical properties of the chromophores in question to sensitize polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emitters (e.g., pyrene, perylene) leading to efficient photon upconversion. Ayitou envisions tailoring the set of sensitizer–emitter chromophores for the design of next-generation organic photonic materials. These novel materials can be further derivatized (converted to a derivative) to engineer high-efficiency photovoltaic devices and can be used for biological imaging applications.

Ayitou and his collaborators also recently published the article “A Naphtho-p-quinodimethane Exhibiting Baird’s Anti-Aromaticity, Broken Symmetry and Attractive Photoluminescence” in the Journal of Organic Chemistry this year. This paper describes the synthesis of the chromophore used in the photon upconversion research.