Four novel nanographene/porphyrin hybrids were prepared, characterized, and probed in solar energy conversion schemes. Exfoliation of graphite by means of immobilizing four different porphyrins onto the basal plane of graphene is accompanied by distinct electronic interactions in both the ground and the excited states. In the ground state, a strong loss in oscillator strength goes hand-in-hand with a notable broadening of the porphyrin transitions and, as such, attests to the shift of electron density from the electron donating porphyrins to nanographene. In the excited state, a nearly quantitative quenching of the porphyrin fluorescence is indicative of full charge transfer. The latter is corroborated by femtosecond transient absorption measurements, which reveal the generation of the one-electron oxidized radical cation of the porphyrins with absorption maxima at 490 and 625 nm in the visible region and conduction band electrons in nanographene with features at 890 and 1025 nm in the near infrared region. We have demonstrated the applicability of the new nanographene/porphyrin hybrids in, for example, solar cells. In this regard, the presence of flakes is crucial in terms of influencing the injection processes, preventing aggregation, and reducing recombination losses, which are commonly encountered in porphyrin-based DSSCs.
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