Diffusion of Oriented Single Molecules with Switchable Mobility in Networks of Long Unidimensional Nanochannels
Single dye molecules incorporated into a mesoporous matrix can act as highly sensitive reporters of their environment. Here, we use single TDI molecules incorporated as guests into hexagonal mesoporous films containing highly structured domains. The dye molecules allow us to map the size of these domains which can extend to over 100 m. Investigation of the translational and orientational dynamics via single molecule fluorescence techniques gives structural as well as dynamical information about the host material. In an air atmosphere, the guest molecules show no movement but perfect orientation along the pore direction. The diffusion of the TDI molecules can be induced by placing the mesoporous film in a saturated atmosphere of chloroform. In single molecule measurements with very high positioning accuracy (down to 2-3 nm) the movement of molecules could be observed even between neighboring channels. This reveals the presence of defects like dead ends closing the pores or small openings in the silica walls between neighboring channels, where molecules can change from one channel to the next. A statistical analysis demonstrates that the diffusion of TDI in the mesoporous film cannot be described with a 1D-random diffusion but is more complicated due to the presence of adsorption sites in which the TDI molecules can be occasionally trapped.