Structural dynamics around a hydrogen bond: Investigating the effect of hydrogen bond strengths on the excited state dynamics of carboxylic acid dimers

E. Plackett, C. Robertson, A. De Matos Loja, H. McGhee, G. Karras, I. V. Sazanovich, R. A. Ingle, M. J. Paterson, R. S. Minns

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Abstract

The photochemical dynamics of the acetic acid and trifluoro-acetic acid dimers in hexane are studied using time-resolved infrared absorption spectroscopy and ab initio electronic structure calculations. The different hydrogen bond strengths of the two systems lead to changes in the character of the accessed excited states and in the timescales of the initial structural rearrangement that define the early time dynamics following UV excitation. The much stronger hydrogen bonding in the acetic acid dimer stabilizes the system against dissociation. Ground state recovery is mediated by a structural buckling around the hydrogen bond itself with no evidence for excited state proton transfer processes that are usually considered to drive ultrafast relaxation processes in hydrogen bonded systems. The buckling of the ring leads to relaxation through two conical intersections and the eventual reformation of the electronic and vibrational ground states on a few picosecond timescale. In trifluoro-acetic acid, the weaker hydrogen bonding interaction means that the dimer dissociates under similar irradiation conditions. The surrounding solvent cage restricts the full separation of the monomer components, meaning that the dimer is reformed and returns to the ground state structure via a similar buckled structure but over a much longer, ∼100 ps, timescale.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124311
JournalThe Journal of Chemical Physics
Volume160
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2024

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