Principles are presented for the design of functional near-infrared (NIR) organic dye molecules composed of simple donor (D), spacer (π), and acceptor (A) building blocks in a D-π-A fashion. Quantitative Kohn–Sham molecular orbital analysis enables accurate fine-tuning of the electronic properties of the π-conjugated aromatic cores by effecting their size, including silaaromatics, adding donor and acceptor substituents, and manipulating the D-π-A torsional angle. The trends in HOMO–LUMO gaps of the model dyes correlate with the excitation energies computed with time-dependent density functional theory at CAMY-B3LYP. Design principles could be developed from these analyses, which led to a proof-of-concept linear D-π-A with a strong excited-state intramolecular charge transfer and a NIR absorption at 879 nm.
- charge-transfer excitations
- density functional calculations
- design rules
- donor–acceptor systems
- NIR absorption