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Electron transfer (ET) is a key chemical reaction in nature and has been extensively studied in bulk systems, but remains challenging to investigate at the single-molecule level. A previously reported naphthalene diimide (NDI)-based system (Higginbotham et al., Chem. Commun. 2013, 49, 5061-5063) displays delayed fluorescence with good quantum yield (∼0.5) and long-lived (nanoseconds) prompt and delayed fluorescence lifetimes, providing an opportunity to interrogate the underlying ET processes in single molecules. Time-resolved single-molecule fluorescence measurements enabled forward and reverse ET rate constants to be calculated for 45 individual molecules embedded in poly(methylmethacrylate) (PMMA) film. Interpretation of the results within the framework of Marcus-Hush theory for ET demonstrates that variation in both the electronic coupling and the driving force for ET is occurring from molecule to molecule within the PMMA film and over time for individual molecules.
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