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Hyperbranched unsaturated polyphosphates as a protective matrix for long-term photon upconversion in air.

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The energy stored in the triplet states of organic molecules, capable of energy transfer via an emissive process (phosphorescence) or a nonemissive process (triplet-triplet transfer), is actively dissipated in the presence of molecular oxygen. The reason is that photoexcited singlet oxygen is highly reactive, so the photoactive molecules in the system are quickly oxidized. Oxidation leads to further loss of efficiency and various undesirable side effects. In this work we have developed a structurally diverse library of hyperbranched unsaturated poly(phosphoester)s that allow efficient scavenging of singlet oxygen, but do not react with molecular oxygen in the ground state, i.e., triplet state. The triplet-triplet annihilation photon upconversion was chosen as a highly oxygen-sensitive process as proof for a long-term protection against singlet oxygen quenching, with comparable efficiencies of the photon upconversion under ambient conditions as in an oxygen-free environment in several unsaturated polyphosphates. The experimental results are further correlated to NMR spectroscopy and theoretical calculations evidencing the importance of the phosphate center. These results open a technological window toward efficient solar cells but also for sustainable solar upconversion devices, harvesting a broad-band sunlight excitation spectrum.

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