Bistable Photoswitching of Hemithioindigo with Green and Red Light: Entry Point to Advanced Molecular Digital Information Processing
Photoswitches reacting to visible light instead of harmful UV irradiation are of very high interest due to the mild and broadly compatible conditions of their operation. Shifting the absorption into the red region of the electromagnetic spectrum usually comes at the cost of losing thermal stability of the metastable state—the switch switches off by itself. Only recently have photoswitches become available that combine visible light responsiveness with high bistability. However, shifting the wavelengths for bistable photoswitching beyond 600 nm is still a great challenge without involving secondary processes such as two-photon absorption or sensitization. We present a simple hemithioindigo photoswitch that can efficiently be photoisomerized using green and red light while maintaining a high thermal barrier of the metastable state. This highly sought after properties allow for selective switching in a mixture of hemithioindigo dyes. In addition, protonation can be used as second independent input altering the light response of the switch and allowing construction of advanced molecular digital information processing devices. This is demonstrated by realizing a broad variety of logical operations covering combinational and sequential logic behavior. By making use of the protonation-induced loss of thermal bistability, a high security keypad lock could be realized, which distinguishes the sequences of three different inputs and additionally erases its unlocked state after a short time.