Clustering-Triggered Efficient Room Temperature Phosphorescence from Nonconventional Luminophores

Pure organic room temperature phosphorescence (RTP) and luminescence from nonconventional luminophores have gained increasing attention. However, it remains challenging to achieve efficient RTP from unorthodox luminophores, on account of the unsophisticated understanding of the emission mechanism. Here we propose a strategy to realize efficient RTP in nonconventional luminophores through incorporation of lone pairs together with clustering and effective electronic interactions. The former promotes spin-orbit coupling and boost the consequent intersystem crossing, whereas the latter narrows energy gaps and stabilizes the triplets, thus synergistically affording remarkable RTP. Experimental and theoretical results of urea and its derivatives verify the design rationale. Remarkably, RTP from thiourea solids with unprecedentedly high efficiency of up to 24.5% is obtained. Further control experiments testify the crucial role of through-space delocalization on the emission. These results would spur the future fabrication of nonconventional phosphors, and moreover should advance understanding of the underlying emission mechanism.