Scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) was used for the study of electrogenerated chemiluminescence (ECL) in the radical annihilation mode. The concurrent steady-state generation of radical ions in the microgap formed between a SECM probe and a transparent microsubstrate provides a distance-dependent ECL signal that can provide information about the kinetics, stability, and mechanism of the light emission process. In the present study, the ECL emission from rubrene and [Ru(bpy)(3)](2+) was used to model the system by carrying out experiments with the SECM and light-detecting apparatus inside an inert atmosphere box. We studied the influence of the distance between the two electrodes, d, and the annihilation kinetics on the ECL light emission profiles under steady-state conditions, as well as the ECL profiles when carrying out cyclic voltammetry (CV) at a fixed d. Experimental results are compared to simulated results obtained through commercial finite element method software. The light produced by annihilation of the ions was a function of d; stronger light was observed at smaller d. The distance dependence of the ECL emission allows the construction of light approach curves in a similar fashion as with the tip currents in the feedback mode of SECM. These ECL approach curves provide an additional channel to describe the reaction kinetics that lead to ECL; good agreement was found between the ECL approach curve emission profile and the simulated results for a fast, diffusion-limited second-order annihilation process (k(ann) > 10(7) M(-1) s(-1)). In the CV mode at fixed distance, the ECL emission of rubrene showed two distinct signals at different potentials when fixing the substrate to generate the radical cation and scanning the tip to generate the radical anion. The first signal (pre-emission) corresponded to an emission well before reaching the generation of the radical anion and was more intense on Au than on Pt. The second ECL signal showed the expected steady-state behavior from the second-order annihilation reaction and agreed well with the simulation. A comparison of the emission obtained with rubrene and [Ru(bpy)(3)](2+) to test the direct formation of lower energy triplets directly at the electrode showed that triplets are not the cause of the pre-emission observed. Wavelength selection experiments for the rubrene system showed that the pre-emission ECL signal also appeared slightly red-shifted with respect to the main luminophore emission; a possible explanation for this phenomenon is inverse photoemission, where the injection of highly energetic holes by the oxidized species into the negatively biased tip electrode causes emission of states in the metal that appear at a different wavelength than the singlet emission from the ECL luminophore.
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