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1.
Nat Commun ; 11(1): 634, 2020 Jan 31.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32005815

RESUMO

The non-equilibrium dynamics of electrons and nuclei govern the function of photoactive materials. Disentangling these dynamics remains a critical goal for understanding photoactive materials. Here we investigate the photoinduced dynamics of the [Fe(bmip)2]2+ photosensitizer, where bmip = 2,6-bis(3-methyl-imidazole-1-ylidine)-pyridine, with simultaneous femtosecond-resolution Fe Kα and Kß X-ray emission spectroscopy (XES) and X-ray solution scattering (XSS). This measurement shows temporal oscillations in the XES and XSS difference signals with the same 278 fs period oscillation. These oscillations originate from an Fe-ligand stretching vibrational wavepacket on a triplet metal-centered (3MC) excited state surface. This 3MC state is populated with a 110 fs time constant by 40% of the excited molecules while the rest relax to a 3MLCT excited state. The sensitivity of the Kα XES to molecular structure results from a 0.7% average Fe-ligand bond length shift between the 1 s and 2p core-ionized states surfaces.

2.
Angew Chem Int Ed Engl ; 59(1): 364-372, 2020 Jan 02.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31602726

RESUMO

Iron N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) complexes have received a great deal of attention recently because of their growing potential as light sensitizers or photocatalysts. We present a sub-ps X-ray spectroscopy study of an FeII NHC complex that identifies and quantifies the states involved in the deactivation cascade after light absorption. Excited molecules relax back to the ground state along two pathways: After population of a hot 3 MLCT state, from the initially excited 1 MLCT state, 30 % of the molecules undergo ultrafast (150 fs) relaxation to the 3 MC state, in competition with vibrational relaxation and cooling to the relaxed 3 MLCT state. The relaxed 3 MLCT state then decays much more slowly (7.6 ps) to the 3 MC state. The 3 MC state is rapidly (2.2 ps) deactivated to the ground state. The 5 MC state is not involved in the deactivation pathway. The ultrafast partial deactivation of the 3 MLCT state constitutes a loss channel from the point of view of photochemical efficiency and highlights the necessity to screen transition-metal complexes for similar ultrafast decays to optimize photochemical performance.

3.
Faraday Discuss ; 216(0): 191-210, 2019 Jul 11.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31016293

RESUMO

Ultrafast dynamics of photoinduced charge transfer processes in light-harvesting systems based on Earth-abundant transition metal complexes are of current interest for the development of molecular devices for solar energy conversion applications. A combination of ultrafast spectroscopy and first principles quantum chemical calculations of a recently synthesized iron carbene complex is used to elucidate the ultrafast excited state evolution processes in these systems with particular emphasis on investigating the underlying reasons why these complexes show promise in terms of significantly extended lifetimes of charge transfer excited states. Together, our results challenge the traditional excited state landscape for iron-based light harvesting transition metal complexes through radically different ground and excited state properties in alternative oxidation states. This includes intriguing indications of rich band-selective excited state dynamics on ultrafast timescales that are interpreted in terms of excitation energy dependence for excitations into a manifold of charge-transfer states. Some implications of the observed excited state properties and photoinduced dynamics for the utilization of iron carbene complexes for solar energy conversion applications are finally discussed.

4.
Science ; 363(6424): 249-253, 2019 01 18.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30498167

RESUMO

Iron's abundance and rich coordination chemistry are potentially appealing features for photochemical applications. However, the photoexcitable charge-transfer states of most iron complexes are limited by picosecond or subpicosecond deactivation through low-lying metal-centered states, resulting in inefficient electron-transfer reactivity and complete lack of photoluminescence. In this study, we show that octahedral coordination of iron(III) by two mono-anionic facial tris-carbene ligands can markedly suppress such deactivation. The resulting complex [Fe(phtmeimb)2]+, where phtmeimb is {phenyl[tris(3-methylimidazol-1-ylidene)]borate}-, exhibits strong, visible, room temperature photoluminescence with a 2.0-nanosecond lifetime and 2% quantum yield via spin-allowed transition from a doublet ligand-to-metal charge-transfer (2LMCT) state to the doublet ground state. Reductive and oxidative electron-transfer reactions were observed for the 2LMCT state of [Fe(phtmeimb)2]+ in bimolecular quenching studies with methylviologen and diphenylamine.

5.
Chem Sci ; 9(2): 405-414, 2018 Jan 14.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-29629111

RESUMO

Recent years have seen the development of new iron-centered N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) complexes for solar energy applications. Compared to typical ligand systems, the NHC ligands provide Fe complexes with longer-lived metal-to-ligand charge transfer (MLCT) states. This increased lifetime is ascribed to strong ligand field splitting provided by the NHC ligands that raises the energy levels of the metal centered (MC) states and therefore reduces the deactivation efficiency of MLCT states. Among currently known NHC systems, [Fe(btbip)2]2+ (btbip = 2,6-bis(3-tert-butyl-imidazol-1-ylidene)pyridine) is a unique complex as it exhibits a short-lived MC state with a lifetime on the scale of a few hundreds of picoseconds. Hence, this complex allows for a detailed investigation, using 100 ps X-ray pulses from a synchrotron, of strong ligand field effects on the intermediate MC state in an NHC complex. Here, we use time-resolved wide angle X-ray scattering (TRWAXS) aided by density functional theory (DFT) to investigate the molecular structure, energetics and lifetime of the high-energy MC state in the Fe-NHC complex [Fe(btbip)2]2+ after excitation to the MLCT manifold. We identify it as a 260 ps metal-centered quintet (5MC) state, and we refine the molecular structure of the excited-state complex verifying the DFT results. Using information about the hydrodynamic state of the solvent, we also determine, for the first time, the energy of the 5MC state as 0.75 ± 0.15 eV. Our results demonstrate that due to the increased ligand field strength caused by NHC ligands, upon transition from the ground state to the 5MC state, the metal to ligand bonds extend by unusually large values: by 0.29 Å in the axial and 0.21 Å in the equatorial direction. These results imply that the transition in the photochemical properties from typical Fe complexes to novel NHC compounds is manifested not only in the destabilization of the MC states, but also in structural distortion of these states.

6.
J Phys Chem Lett ; 9(3): 459-463, 2018 Feb 01.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-29298063

RESUMO

The iron carbene complex [FeII(btz)3](PF6)2 (where btz = 3,3'-dimethyl-1,1'-bis(p-tolyl)-4,4'-bis(1,2,3-triazol-5-ylidene)) has been synthesized, isolated, and characterized as a low-spin ferrous complex. It exhibits strong metal-to-ligand charge transfer (MLCT) absorption bands throughout the visible spectrum, and excitation of these bands gives rise to a 3MLCT state with a 528 ps excited-state lifetime in CH3CN solution that is more than one order of magnitude longer compared with the MLCT lifetime of any previously reported FeII complex. The low potential of the [Fe(btz)3]3+/[Fe(btz)3]2+ redox couple makes the 3MLCT state of [FeII(btz)3]2+ a potent photoreductant that can be generated by light absorption throughout the visible spectrum. Taken together with our recent results on the [FeIII(btz)3]3+ form of this complex, these results show that the FeII and FeIII oxidation states of the same Fe(btz)3 complex feature long-lived MLCT and LMCT states, respectively, demonstrating the versatility of iron N-heterocyclic carbene complexes as promising light-harvesters for a broad range of oxidizing and reducing conditions.

7.
Chem Rev ; 117(16): 10940-11024, 2017 Aug 23.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28805062

RESUMO

Electrons are the workhorses of solar energy conversion. Conversion of the energy of light to electricity in photovoltaics, or to energy-rich molecules (solar fuel) through photocatalytic processes, invariably starts with photoinduced generation of energy-rich electrons. The harvesting of these electrons in practical devices rests on a series of electron transfer processes whose dynamics and efficiencies determine the function of materials and devices. To capture the energy of a photogenerated electron-hole pair in a solar cell material, charges of opposite sign have to be separated against electrostatic attractions, prevented from recombining and being transported through the active material to electrodes where they can be extracted. In photocatalytic solar fuel production, these electron processes are coupled to chemical reactions leading to storage of the energy of light in chemical bonds. With the focus on the ultrafast time scale, we here discuss the light-induced electron processes underlying the function of several molecular and hybrid materials currently under development for solar energy applications in dye or quantum dot-sensitized solar cells, polymer-fullerene polymer solar cells, organometal halide perovskite solar cells, and finally some photocatalytic systems.

8.
Struct Dyn ; 4(4): 044030, 2017 07.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28653021

RESUMO

We have used femtosecond resolution UV-visible and Kß x-ray emission spectroscopy to characterize the electronic excited state dynamics of [Fe(bpy)2(CN)2], where bpy=2,2'-bipyridine, initiated by metal-to-ligand charge transfer (MLCT) excitation. The excited-state absorption in the transient UV-visible spectra, associated with the 2,2'-bipyridine radical anion, provides a robust marker for the MLCT excited state, while the transient Kß x-ray emission spectra provide a clear measure of intermediate and high spin metal-centered excited states. From these measurements, we conclude that the MLCT state of [Fe(bpy)2(CN)2] undergoes ultrafast spin crossover to a metal-centered quintet excited state through a short lived metal-centered triplet transient species. These measurements of [Fe(bpy)2(CN)2] complement prior measurement performed on [Fe(bpy)3]2+ and [Fe(bpy)(CN)4]2- in dimethylsulfoxide solution and help complete the chemical series [Fe(bpy)N(CN)6-2N]2N-4, where N = 1-3. The measurements confirm that simple ligand modifications can significantly change the relaxation pathways and excited state lifetimes and support the further investigation of light harvesting and photocatalytic applications of 3d transition metal complexes.

9.
ACS Nano ; 11(6): 5391-5404, 2017 06 27.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28485977

RESUMO

Organo-metal halide perovskites are some of the most promising materials for the new generation of low-cost photovoltaic and light-emitting devices. Their solution processability is a beneficial trait, although it leads to a spatial inhomogeneity of perovskite films with a variation of the trap state density at the nanoscale. Comprehending their properties using traditional spectroscopy therefore becomes difficult, calling for a combination with microscopy in order to see beyond the ensemble-averaged response. We studied photoluminescence (PL) blinking of micrometer-sized individual methylammonium lead iodide (MAPbI3) perovskite polycrystals, as well as monocrystalline microrods up to 10 µm long. We correlated their PL dynamics with structure employing scanning electron and optical super-resolution microscopy. Combining super-resolution localization imaging and super-resolution optical fluctuation imaging (SOFI), we could detect and quantify preferential emitting regions in polycrystals exhibiting different types of blinking. We propose that blinking in MAPbI3 occurs by the activation/passivation of a "supertrap" which presumably is a donor-acceptor pair able to trap both electrons and holes. As such, nonradiative recombination via supertraps, in spite being present at a rather low concentrations (1012-1015 cm-3), is much more efficient than via all other defect states present in the material at higher concentrations (1016-1018 cm-3). We speculate that activation/deactivation of a supertrap occurs by its temporary dissociation into free donor and acceptor impurities. We found that supertraps are most efficient in structurally homogeneous and large MAPbI3 crystals where carrier diffusion is efficient, which may therefore pose limitations on the efficiency of perovskite-based devices.

10.
Struct Dyn ; 4(4): 044011, 2017 Jul.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28396880

RESUMO

The use of low temperature thermal detectors for avoiding Darwin-Bragg losses in lab-based ultrafast experiments has begun. An outline of the background of this new development is offered, showing the relevant history and initiative taken by this work.

11.
Chem Sci ; 8(1): 515-523, 2017 Jan 01.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28451198

RESUMO

Developing light-harvesting and photocatalytic molecules made with iron could provide a cost effective, scalable, and environmentally benign path for solar energy conversion. To date these developments have been limited by the sub-picosecond metal-to-ligand charge transfer (MLCT) electronic excited state lifetime of iron based complexes due to spin crossover - the extremely fast intersystem crossing and internal conversion to high spin metal-centered excited states. We revitalize a 30 year old synthetic strategy for extending the MLCT excited state lifetimes of iron complexes by making mixed ligand iron complexes with four cyanide (CN-) ligands and one 2,2'-bipyridine (bpy) ligand. This enables MLCT excited state and metal-centered excited state energies to be manipulated with partial independence and provides a path to suppressing spin crossover. We have combined X-ray Free-Electron Laser (XFEL) Kß hard X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy with femtosecond time-resolved UV-visible absorption spectroscopy to characterize the electronic excited state dynamics initiated by MLCT excitation of [Fe(CN)4(bpy)]2-. The two experimental techniques are highly complementary; the time-resolved UV-visible measurement probes allowed electronic transitions between valence states making it sensitive to ligand-centered electronic states such as MLCT states, whereas the Kß fluorescence spectroscopy provides a sensitive measure of changes in the Fe spin state characteristic of metal-centered excited states. We conclude that the MLCT excited state of [Fe(CN)4(bpy)]2- decays with roughly a 20 ps lifetime without undergoing spin crossover, exceeding the MLCT excited state lifetime of [Fe(2,2'-bipyridine)3]2+ by more than two orders of magnitude.

12.
Nature ; 543(7647): 695-699, 2017 03 29.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28358064

RESUMO

Transition-metal complexes are used as photosensitizers, in light-emitting diodes, for biosensing and in photocatalysis. A key feature in these applications is excitation from the ground state to a charge-transfer state; the long charge-transfer-state lifetimes typical for complexes of ruthenium and other precious metals are often essential to ensure high performance. There is much interest in replacing these scarce elements with Earth-abundant metals, with iron and copper being particularly attractive owing to their low cost and non-toxicity. But despite the exploration of innovative molecular designs, it remains a formidable scientific challenge to access Earth-abundant transition-metal complexes with long-lived charge-transfer excited states. No known iron complexes are considered photoluminescent at room temperature, and their rapid excited-state deactivation precludes their use as photosensitizers. Here we present the iron complex [Fe(btz)3]3+ (where btz is 3,3'-dimethyl-1,1'-bis(p-tolyl)-4,4'-bis(1,2,3-triazol-5-ylidene)), and show that the superior σ-donor and π-acceptor electron properties of the ligand stabilize the excited state sufficiently to realize a long charge-transfer lifetime of 100 picoseconds (ps) and room-temperature photoluminescence. This species is a low-spin Fe(iii) d5 complex, and emission occurs from a long-lived doublet ligand-to-metal charge-transfer (2LMCT) state that is rarely seen for transition-metal complexes. The absence of intersystem crossing, which often gives rise to large excited-state energy losses in transition-metal complexes, enables the observation of spin-allowed emission directly to the ground state and could be exploited as an increased driving force in photochemical reactions on surfaces. These findings suggest that appropriate design strategies can deliver new iron-based materials for use as light emitters and photosensitizers.

13.
J Phys Chem Lett ; 8(5): 1004-1008, 2017 Mar 02.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28195487

RESUMO

Skin photoprotection is commonly believed to rely on the photochemistry of 5,6-dihydroxyindole (DHI)- and 5,6-dihydroxyindole-2-carboxylic acid (DHICA)-based eumelanin building blocks. Attempts to elucidate the underlying excited-state relaxation mechanisms have been partly unsuccessful due to the marked instability to oxidation. We report a study of the excited-state deactivation of DHI using steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence accompanied by high-level quantum-chemistry calculations including solvent effects. Spectroscopic data show that deactivation of the lowest excited state of DHI in aqueous buffer proceeds on the 100 ps time scale and is 20 times faster than in methanol. Quantum-chemical calculations reveal that the excited-state decay mechanism is a sequential proton-coupled electron transfer, which involves the initial formation of a solvated electron from DHI, followed by the transfer of a proton to the solvent. This unexpected finding would prompt a revision of current notions about eumelanin photophysics and photobiology.

14.
Nat Commun ; 7: 13678, 2016 11 28.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-27892472

RESUMO

The interactions between the reactive excited state of molecular photocatalysts and surrounding solvent dictate reaction mechanisms and pathways, but are not readily accessible to conventional optical spectroscopic techniques. Here we report an investigation of the structural and solvation dynamics following excitation of a model photocatalytic molecular system [Ir2(dimen)4]2+, where dimen is para-diisocyanomenthane. The time-dependent structural changes in this model photocatalyst, as well as the changes in the solvation shell structure, have been measured with ultrafast diffuse X-ray scattering and simulated with Born-Oppenheimer Molecular Dynamics. Both methods provide direct access to the solute-solvent pair distribution function, enabling the solvation dynamics around the catalytically active iridium sites to be robustly characterized. Our results provide evidence for the coordination of the iridium atoms by the acetonitrile solvent and demonstrate the viability of using diffuse X-ray scattering at free-electron laser sources for studying the dynamics of photocatalysis.

15.
Chem Commun (Camb) ; 52(94): 13702-13705, 2016 Nov 17.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-27819083

RESUMO

A new subporphyrin was synthesized for use as a molecular sensitizer in electrochemical and dye-sensitized photoelectrochemical water oxidation. A photoelectrochemical cell with a TiO2 electrode modified with the sensitizer and a molecular water oxidation catalyst generated higher photocurrent than reference cells that have electrodes modified with either the photosensitizer or the catalyst under visible light (λ > 500 nm) illumination. Oxygen evolution was confirmed after photolysis by GC and GC-MS analyses using isotope-labeling experiments. The large molar extinction coefficients of the ring-contracted porphyrin in the visible region enabled kinetic analysis by time-resolved transient absorption spectroscopy, which also supported the photocatalytic activity.

16.
Phys Rev Lett ; 117(1): 013002, 2016 Jul 01.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-27419566

RESUMO

We study the structural dynamics of photoexcited [Co(terpy)_{2}]^{2+} in an aqueous solution with ultrafast x-ray diffuse scattering experiments conducted at the Linac Coherent Light Source. Through direct comparisons with density functional theory calculations, our analysis shows that the photoexcitation event leads to elongation of the Co-N bonds, followed by coherent Co-N bond length oscillations arising from the impulsive excitation of a vibrational mode dominated by the symmetrical stretch of all six Co-N bonds. This mode has a period of 0.33 ps and decays on a subpicosecond time scale. We find that the equilibrium bond-elongated structure of the high spin state is established on a single-picosecond time scale and that this state has a lifetime of ∼7 ps.

17.
Acc Chem Res ; 49(8): 1477-85, 2016 08 16.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-27455191

RESUMO

The photophysics and photochemistry of transition metal complexes (TMCs) has long been a hot field of interdisciplinary research. Rich metal-based redox processes, together with a high variety in electronic configurations and excited-state dynamics, have rendered TMCs excellent candidates for interconversion between light, chemical, and electrical energies in intramolecular, supramolecular, and interfacial arrangements. In specific applications such as photocatalytic organic synthesis, photoelectrochemical cells, and light-driven supramolecular motors, light absorption by a TMC-based photosensitizer and subsequent excited-state energy or electron transfer constitute essential steps. In this context, TMCs based on rare and expensive metals, such as ruthenium and iridium, are frequently employed as photosensitizers, which is obviously not ideal for large-scale implementation. In the search for abundant and environmentally benign solutions, six-coordinate Fe(II) complexes (Fe(II)L6) have been widely considered as highly desirable alternatives. However, not much success has been achieved due to the extremely short-lived triplet metal-to-ligand charge transfer ((3)MLCT) excited state that is deactivated by low-lying metal-centered (MC) states on a 100 fs time scale. A fundamental strategy to design useful Fe-based photosensitizers is thus to destabilize the MC states relative to the (3)MLCT state by increasing the ligand field strength, with special focus on making eg σ* orbitals on the Fe center energetically less accessible. Previous efforts to directly transplant successful strategies from Ru(II)L6 complexes unfortunately met with limited success in this regard, despite their close chemical kinship. In this Account, we summarize recent promising results from our and other groups in utilizing strongly σ-donating N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) ligands to make strong-field Fe(II)L6 complexes with significantly extended (3)MLCT lifetimes. Already some of the first homoleptic bis(tridentate) complexes incorporating (CNHC^Npyridine^CNHC)-type ligands gratifyingly resulted in extension of the (3)MLCT lifetime by more than 2 orders of magnitude compared to the parental [Fe(tpy)2](2+) (tpy = 2,2':6',2″-terpyridine) complex. Quantum chemical (QC) studies also revealed that the (3)MC instead of the (5)MC state likely dictates the deactivation of the (3)MLCT state, a behavior distinct from traditional Fe(II)L6 complexes but rather resembling Ru analogues. A heteroleptic Fe(II) NHC complex featuring mesoionic bis(1,2,3-triazol-5-ylidene) (btz) ligands also delivered a 100-fold elongation of the (3)MLCT lifetime relative to its parental [Fe(bpy)3](2+) (bpy = 2,2'-bipyridine) complex. Again, a Ru-like deactivation mechanism of the (3)MLCT state was indicated by QC studies. With a COOH-functionalized homoleptic complex, a record (3)MLCT lifetime of 37 ps was recently observed on an Al2O3 nanofilm. As a proof of concept, it was further demonstrated that the significant improvement in the (3)MLCT lifetime indeed benefits efficient light harvesting with Fe(II) NHC complexes. For the first time, close-to-unity electron injection from the lowest-energy (3)MLCT state to a TiO2 nanofilm was achieved by a stable Fe(II) complex. This is in complete contrast to conventional Fe(II)L6-derived photosensitizers that could only make use of high-energy photons. These exciting results significantly broaden the understanding of the fundamental photophysics and photochemistry of d(6) Fe(II) complexes. They also open up new possibilities to develop solar energy-converting materials based on this abundant, inexpensive, and intrinsically nontoxic element.

18.
J Phys Chem Lett ; 7(7): 1096-101, 2016 Apr 07.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-26942559

RESUMO

There is a mounting effort to use nickel oxide (NiO) as p-type selective electrode for organometal halide perovskite-based solar cells. Recently, an overall power conversion efficiency using this hole acceptor has reached 18%. However, ultrafast spectroscopic investigations on the mechanism of charge injection as well as recombination dynamics have yet to be studied and understood. Using time-resolved terahertz spectroscopy, we show that hole transfer is complete on the subpicosecond time scale, driven by the favorable band alignment between the valence bands of perovskite and NiO nanoparticles (NiO(np)). Recombination time between holes injected into NiO(np) and mobile electrons in the perovskite material is shown to be hundreds of picoseconds to a few nanoseconds. Because of the low conductivity of NiO(np), holes are pinned at the interface, and it is electrons that determine the recombination rate. This recombination competes with charge collection and therefore must be minimized. Doping NiO to promote higher mobility of holes is desirable in order to prevent back recombination.

19.
ChemSusChem ; 9(7): 667-75, 2016 Apr 07.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-27010851

RESUMO

Iron-carbene complexes show considerable promise as earth-abundant light-harvesters, and adsorption onto nanostructured TiO2 is a crucial step for developing solar energy applications. Intrinsic electron injection capabilities of such promising Fe(II) N-heterocyclic complexes (Fe-NHC) to TiO2 are calculated here, and found to correlate well with recent experimental findings of highly efficient interfacial injection. First, we examine the special bonding characteristics of Fe-NHC light harvesters. The excited-state surfaces are examined using density functional theory (DFT) and time-dependent DFT (TD-DFT) to explore relaxed excited-state properties. Finally, by relaxing an Fe-NHC adsorbed on a TiO2 nanocluster, we show favorable injection properties in terms of interfacial energy level alignment and electronic coupling suitable for efficient electron injection of excited electrons from the Fe complex into the TiO2 conduction band on ∼100 fs time scales.


Assuntos
Ferro/metabolismo , Luz
20.
J Phys Chem B ; 120(6): 1158-68, 2016 Feb 18.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-26783685

RESUMO

In liquid phase chemistry dynamic solute-solvent interactions often govern the path, ultimate outcome, and efficiency of chemical reactions. These steps involve many-body movements on subpicosecond time scales and thus ultrafast structural tools capable of capturing both intramolecular electronic and structural changes, and local solvent structural changes are desired. We have studied the intra- and intermolecular dynamics of a model chromophore, aqueous [Fe(bpy)3](2+), with complementary X-ray tools in a single experiment exploiting intense XFEL radiation as a probe. We monitored the ultrafast structural rearrangement of the solute with X-ray emission spectroscopy, thus establishing time zero for the ensuing X-ray diffuse scattering analysis. The simultaneously recorded X-ray diffuse scattering patterns reveal slower subpicosecond dynamics triggered by the intramolecular structural dynamics of the photoexcited solute. By simultaneous combination of both methods only, we can extract new information about the solvation dynamic processes unfolding during the first picosecond (ps). The measured bulk solvent density increase of 0.2% indicates a dramatic change of the solvation shell around each photoexcited solute, confirming previous ab initio molecular dynamics simulations. Structural changes in the aqueous solvent associated with density and temperature changes occur with ∼1 ps time constants, characteristic for structural dynamics in water. This slower time scale of the solvent response allows us to directly observe the structure of the excited solute molecules well before the solvent contributions become dominant.

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