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Coordination-driven self-assembly has emerged as a powerful bottom-up approach to construct various supramolecular architectures with increasing complexity and functionality. Tetraphenylethylene (TPE) has been incorporated into metallo-supramolecules to build luminescent materials based on aggregation-induced emission. We herein report three generations of ligands with full conjugation of TPE with 2,2′:6′,2″-terpyridine (TPY) to construct emissive materials. Due to the bulky size of TPY substituents, the intramolecular rotations of ligands are partially restricted even in dilute solution, thus leading to emission in both solution and aggregation states. Furthermore, TPE-TPY ligands are assembled with Cd(II) to introduce additional restriction of intramolecular rotation and immobilize fluorophores into rosette-like metallo-supramolecules ranging from generation 1–3 (G1−G3). More importantly, the fluorescent behavior of TPE-TPY ligands is preserved in these rosettes, which display tunable emissive properties with respect to different generations, particularly, pure white-light emission for G2.

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Nature Communications, v. 9, art. 567