Methyl substitution effects on the non-adiabatic dynamics of benzene: lifting three-state quasi-degeneracy at conical intersections†
Previously, theoretical calculations on the non-adiabatic dynamics of benzene from the S2 state have indicated that the S2/S1 and S1/S0 conical intersections (CIs) facilitate ballistic nuclear wavepacket motion from S2 to S0 (fast channel) and branching to S1 (slow channel). In this paper, we present time-resolved photoelectron spectra of benzene and its methyl-derivatives (toluene and o-xylene) measured with a vacuum-UV laser, which clearly reveal both the fast and slow channels. The extremely short propagation time of the wavepacket between the two CIs of benzene indicates that the two are in close proximity to each other, while methyl substitution extends the propagation time and decreases the branching ratio into the fast channel. The results suggest that the quasi-degeneracy of the three states in benzene is lifted by the geometrical shifts of the CIs by methyl substitution.