Polarizing agents beyond pentacene for efficient triplet dynamic nuclear polarization in glass matrices


Triplet dynamic nuclear polarization (triplet-DNP) is a technique that can obtain high nuclear polarization under moderate conditions. However, in order to obtain practically useful polarization, large single crystals doped with a polarizing agent must be strictly oriented with respect to the magnetic field to sharpen the electron spin resonance (ESR) spectra, which is a fatal problem that prevents its application to truly useful biomolecular targets. Instead of this conventional physical approach of controlling crystal orientation, here, we propose a chemical approach, i.e., molecular design of polarizing agents; pentacene molecules, the most typical triplet-DNP polarizing agent, are modified so as to make the triplet electron distribution wider and more isotropic without loss of the triplet polarization. In fact, the modification of pentacene with thiophene moieties makes the ESR spectrum sharper and stronger than that of pentacene. To elucidate the effect of the substitutions on spin polarization and zero-field splitting parameters, which determine ESR spectrum, state-of-the-art quantum chemical calculations were performed and revealed that the direction of the spin polarization is altered by the modification with thiophene moieties and the size of D and E parameters are reduced from parent pentacene due to the partial delocalization of spin densities on the thiophene moieties. The triplet-DNP with the new polarizing agent successfully exceeds the previous highest 1H polarization of glassy materials by a factor of 5. This demonstrates the feasibility of a polarizing agent that can surpass pentacene, the best polarizing agent for more than 30 years since triplet-DNP was first reported, in the unoriented state. This work provides a pathway toward practically useful high nuclear polarization of various biomolecules by triplet-DNP.


Supplementary material

Supporting information
Experimental details including materials, synthesis and measurement setup, UV-vis absorption and fluorescence spectra, time-resolved absorption decays, fluorescence quantum yields, time-resolved ESR and triplet-DNP measurements, calculation details, calculated normal modes and spin density distributions.