The design and optimization of fluorescent labels and fluorogenic probes rely heavily on their ability to distinguish among multiple competing fluorescence quenching mechanisms. Cresyl violet, a member of the 1,4-oxazine family of dyes, has generally been regarded as an exemplary fluorescent probe; however, recent ultrafast experiments revealed an excited-state decay kinetic of 1.2 ps, suggesting the presence of a transient photochemical state. Here, we present ultrabroadband two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy (2D ES) measurements of cresyl violet in the presence of the fluorescence quenching agent 3,6-di(2-hydroxyethyl)-1,2,4,5-tetrazine. The broad spectral bandwidth allows for the evaluation of multiple fluorescence quenching mechanisms such as exciton formation, photoinduced electron transfer, resonance energy transfer, and excited-state proton transfer. The 2D electronic spectra in the presence and absence of the quencher suggest that excited-state proton transfer drives the system's excited-state dynamics and leads to a cresyl violet tautomer involved in fluorescence quenching. The invocation of the tautomeric form of cresyl violet neatly resolves longstanding inconsistencies in the photophysics of oxazine dyes more generally. Although still under development, the application of ultrabroadband 2D ES to a molecular system represents a compelling demonstration of the technique's future role in the study of photochemical reaction mechanisms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry