Tuning HOMO-LUMO levels: Trends leading to the design of 9-fluorenone scaffolds with predictable electronic and optoelectronic properties


Highest occupied molecular orbital-lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (HOMO-LUMO) tuning is an important consideration in the development of organic-based semiconducting materials. A study of the specific effects and overall trends for the HOMO-LUMO tuning of a diverse series of 9-fluorenones by means of extended conjugation and substituent effects is described. Trends were explored in a range of compounds, beginning with structures having highly electron-withdrawing substituents and progressing to structures having highly electron-donating substituents. Compounds with an incremental increase in conjugation were also examined. Electrochemical and optical measurements were used to calculate the HOMO-LUMO levels and HOMO-LUMO bandgap (HLG) for each structure. Results from both methods were compared and correlated with the differences in molecular structure. Increasing the electron-donating character of the substituents was observed to decrease the HLG and increase the energy levels of the HOMO and the LUMO, whereas an increase in the electron-withdrawing character produced the opposite results. Increasing conjugation decreased the HLG, increased the HOMO energy level, but decreased the LUMO energy level. Spectroscopic evidence of substituent influence on the carbonyl suggests that substituents directly impact the HLG by influencing the availability of nonbonding electrons within the carbonyl, which impacts the probability of an nπ* transition. The data presented not only elaborate on the HOMO-LUMO tuning of 9-fluorenone systems but also enable the consideration of 9-fluorenones as analogous models for HOMO-LUMO tuning in other more complex polyaromatic systems such as bifluorenylidenes. These trends may provide insight into developing materials with specifically tuned HLGs and HOMO-LUMO levels for a variety of applications.


Chemistry and Biochemistry

Document Type





charge transfer, donor-acceptor system, energy conversion, fluorenone, substituent effect

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry