Ultrafast Excited-State Dynamics of ortho-Terphenyl and 1,2-Diphenylcyclohexene: The Role of “Ethylenic Twisting” in the Non-Adiabatic Photocyclization of Stilbene Analogs
Link to Publication: ACS Publication
Contributing Authors: Molly Molloy, Josh Snyder, Ben Streifel, Art Bragg
Date Published: May 15, 2013
Non-adiabatic photocyclization is the fundamental step underlying photoswitching and light-assisted bond formation within diarylethylenes, yet the details of the nuclear dynamics leading to cyclization remain unclear. We have examined the ultrafast excited-state dynamics of o-terphenyl (OTP) and 1,2-diphenylcyclohexene (DPCH) in solution in order to determine how variation in structural constraints impacts the course of non-adiabatic photocyclization specifically in stilbenoids. Measured spectral dynamics reflect cyclization through a S1-to-S0 transition for both systems on picosecond timescales, with excited-state decay appreciably faster for DPCH versus OTP. Supportive ab initio calculations reveal a higher energetic penalty in OTP versus DPCH for reaching the lowest-energy conical intersection from the S1 minimum; this penalty is associated primarily with twisting about the carbon-carbon bond that bridges terminal phenyl groups, a structural change that has a critical role in non-adiabatic cis-trans isomerization of diarylethylenes. Findings provide a new experimental perspective on the elusive nuclear dynamics underlying cis-stilbene photocyclization.