Accurate simulation of optical properties in dyes.

Laboratoire de Chimie Théorique Appliquée, Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix, rue de Bruxelles 61, B-5000 Namur, Belgium.
Accounts of Chemical Research (Impact Factor: 20.83). 01/2009; 42(2):326-34. DOI: 10.1021/ar800163d
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Since Antiquity, humans have produced and commercialized dyes. To this day, extraction of natural dyes often requires lengthy and costly procedures. In the 19th century, global markets and new industrial products drove a significant effort to synthesize artificial dyes, characterized by low production costs, huge quantities, and new optical properties (colors). Dyes that encompass classes of molecules absorbing in the UV-visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum now have a wider range of applications, including coloring (textiles, food, paintings), energy production (photovoltaic cells, OLEDs), or pharmaceuticals (diagnostics, drugs). Parallel to the growth in dye applications, researchers have increased their efforts to design and synthesize new dyes to customize absorption and emission properties. In particular, dyes containing one or more metallic centers allow for the construction of fairly sophisticated systems capable of selectively reacting to light of a given wavelength and behaving as molecular devices (photochemical molecular devices, PMDs).Theoretical tools able to predict and interpret the excited-state properties of organic and inorganic dyes allow for an efficient screening of photochemical centers. In this Account, we report recent developments defining a quantitative ab initio protocol (based on time-dependent density functional theory) for modeling dye spectral properties. In particular, we discuss the importance of several parameters, such as the methods used for electronic structure calculations, solvent effects, and statistical treatments. In addition, we illustrate the performance of such simulation tools through case studies. We also comment on current weak points of these methods and ways to improve them.