Journal of Chemical Physics, vol. 131, issue 22 (2009)
The electronic energy relaxation of 1-nitronaphthalene was studied in nonpolar, aprotic, and protic solvents in the time window from femtoseconds to microseconds. Excitation at 340 or 360 nm populates the Franck-Condon S(1)(pipi( *)) state, which is proposed to bifurcate into two essentially barrierless nonradiative decay channels with sub-200 fs lifetimes. The first main decay channel connects the S(1) state with a receiver T(n) state that has considerable npi( *) character. The receiver T(n) state undergoes internal conversion to populate the vibrationally excited T(1)(pipi( *)) state in 2-4 ps. It is shown that vibrational cooling dynamics in the T(1) state depends on the solvent used, with average lifetimes in the range from 6 to 12 ps. Furthermore, solvation dynamics competes effectively with vibrational cooling in the triplet manifold in primary alcohols. The relaxed T(1) state undergoes intersystem crossing back to the ground state within a few microseconds in N(2)-saturated solutions in all the solvents studied. The second minor channel involves conformational relaxation of the bright S(1) state (primarily rotation of the NO(2)-group) to populate a dissociative singlet state with significant charge-transfer character and negligible oscillator strength. This dissociative channel is proposed to be responsible for the observed photochemistry in 1-nitronaphthalene. Ground- and excited-state calculations at the density functional level of theory that include bulk and explicit solvent effects lend support to the proposed mechanism where the fluorescent S(1) state decays rapidly and irreversibly to dark excited states. A four-state kinetic model is proposed that satisfactorily explains the origin of the nonradiative electronic relaxation pathways in 1-nitronaphthalene.
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