Phonon-Induced Localization of Excitons in Molecular Crystals from First Principles

AM Alvertis and JB Haber and EA Engel and S Sharifzadeh and JB Neaton, PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS, 130, 086401 (2023).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.130.086401

The spatial extent of excitons in molecular systems underpins their photophysics and utility for optoelectronic applications. Phonons are reported to lead to both exciton localization and delocalization. However, a microscopic understanding of phonon-induced (de)localization is lacking, in particular, how localized states form, the role of specific vibrations, and the relative importance of quantum and thermal nuclear fluctuations. Here, we present a first-principles study of these phenomena in solid pentacene, a prototypical molecular crystal, capturing the formation of bound excitons, exciton-phonon coupling to all orders, and phonon anharmonicity, using density functional theory, the ab initio GW-Bethe-Salpeter equation approach, finite-difference, and path integral techniques. We find that for pentacene zero-point nuclear motion causes uniformly strong localization, with thermal motion providing additional localization only for Wannier-Mott-like excitons. Anharmonic effects drive temperature-dependent localization, and, while such effects prevent the emergence of highly delocalized excitons, we explore the conditions under which these might be realized.

Return to Publications page