Thermally-activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) is a promising strategy to harvest triplets in OLED towards improved efficiency, but several issues must be addressed to fully exploit its potential, including the nature of involved excited singlet and triplet states and their response to the local environment in order to concurrently optimize the dye inside the matrix. Towards this ambitious aim, we present an extensive spectroscopic study of a typical TADF dye in liquid and glassy solvents. TD-DFT results for the same molecule in gas-phase and under an applied electric field are exploited to build a reliable model for the dye, rigorously validated against experiment. The model, accounting for charge transfer and local singlet and triplet states, spin-orbit coupling, conformational and vibrational degrees of freedom, sets the basis for a sound understanding of the photophysics of TADF dyes in different environments. The charge-transfer nature of the fluorescent state and of the almost degenerate phosphorescent state is unambiguously demonstrated. The concurrent role played by conformational degrees of freedom and the matrix polarizability in governing TADF is addressed.
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