A perylenediimide chromophore (P) was incorporated into DNA hairpins as a base-pair surrogate to prevent the self-aggregation of P that is typical when it is used as the hairpin linker. The photoinduced charge-transfer and spin dynamics of these hairpins were studied using femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy and time-resolved EPR spectroscopy (TREPR). P is a photooxidant that is sufficiently powerful to quantitatively inject holes into adjacent adenine (A) and guanine (G) nucleobases. The charge-transfer dynamics observed following hole injection from P into the A-tract of the DNA hairpins is consistent with formation of a polaron involving an estimated 3-4 A bases. Trapping of the (A3-4)+• polaron by a G base at the opposite end of the A-tract from P is competitive with charge recombination of the polaron and P-• only at short P-G distances. In a hairpin having 3 A-T base pairs between P and G (4G), the radical ion pair that results from trapping of the hole by G is spin-correlated and displays TREPR spectra at 295 and 85 K that are consistent with its formation from 1*P by the radical-pair intersystem crossing mechanism. Charge recombination is spin-selective and produces 3*P, which at 85 K exhibits a spin-polarized TREPR spectrum that is diagnostic of its origin from the spin-correlated radical ion pair. Interestingly, in a hairpin having no G bases (OG), TREPR spectra at 85 K revealed a spin-correlated radical pair with a dipolar interaction identical to that of 4G, implying that the A-base in the fourth A-T base pair away from the P chromophore serves as a hole trap. Our data suggest that hole injection and transport in these hairpins is completely dominated by polaron generation and movement to a trap site rather than by superexchange. On the other hand, the barrier for charge injection from G +• back onto the A-T base pairs is strongly activated, so charge recombination from G (or even A trap sites at 85 K) most likely proceeds by a superexchange mechanism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry