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Issue 3, 2011
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Superior ZE and EZ photoswitching dynamics of dihydrodibenzodiazocine, a bridged azobenzene, by S1(nπ*) excitation at λ = 387 and 490 nm

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Abstract

The ultrafast ZE and EZphotoisomerisation dynamics of 5,6-dihydrodibenzo[c,g][1,2]diazocine (1), the parent compound of a class of bridged azobenzene-based photochromic molecular switches with a severely constrained eight-membered heterocyclic ring as central unit, have been studied by femtosecond time-resolved spectroscopy in n-hexane as solvent and by quantum chemical calculations. The diazocine contrasts with azobenzene (AB) in that its Z rather than E isomer is the energetically more stable form. Moreover, it stands out compared to AB for the spectrally well separated S1(nπ*) absorption bands of its two isomers. The Z isomer absorbs at around λ = 404 nm, the E form has its absorption maximum around λ = 490 nm. The observed transient spectra following S1(nπ*) photoexcitation show ultrafast excited-state decays with time constants τ1 = 70 fs for the Z and <50 fs for the E isomer reflecting very fast departures of the excited wave packets from the S1 Franck–Condon regions and τ2 = 270 fs (320 fs) related to the ZE (resp. EZ) isomerisations. Slower transient absorption changes on the time scale of τ3 = 5 ps are due to vibrational cooling of the reaction products. The results show that the unique steric constraints in the diazocine do not hinder, but accelerate the molecular isomerisation dynamics and increase the photoswitching efficiencies, contrary to chemical intuition. The observed isomerisation times and quantum yields are rationalised on the basis of CASPT2//CASSCF calculations by a S1/S0 conical intersection seam at a CNNC dihedral angle of ≈96° involving twisting and torsion of the central CNNC moiety. With improved photochromism, high quantum yields, short reaction times and good photostability, diazocine 1 and its derivatives constitute outstanding candidates for photoswitchable molecular tweezers and other applications.

Graphical abstract: Superior Z → E and E → Z photoswitching dynamics of dihydrodibenzodiazocine, a bridged azobenzene, by S1(nπ*) excitation at λ = 387 and 490 nm

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Publication details

The article was received on 12 Jul 2010, accepted on 01 Oct 2010 and first published on 12 Nov 2010


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C0CP01148G
Citation: Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2011,13, 1054-1063
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    Superior ZE and EZ photoswitching dynamics of dihydrodibenzodiazocine, a bridged azobenzene, by S1(nπ*) excitation at λ = 387 and 490 nm

    R. Siewertsen, J. B. Schönborn, B. Hartke, F. Renth and F. Temps, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2011, 13, 1054
    DOI: 10.1039/C0CP01148G

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