Ultrafast structural dynamics of in-cage isomerization of diiodomethane in solution†
Despite extensive studies on the isomer species formed by photodissociation of haloalkanes in solution, the molecular structure of the precursor of the isomer, which is often assumed to be a vibrationally hot isomer formed from the radical pair, and its in-cage isomerization mechanism remain elusive. Here, the structural dynamics of CH2I2 upon 267 nm photoexcitation in methanol were probed with femtosecond X-ray solution scattering at an X-ray free-electron laser. The determined molecular structure of the transiently formed species that converts to the CH2I–I isomer has the I–I distance of 4.17 Å, which is longer than that of the isomer (3.15 Å) by more than 1.0 Å and the mean-squared displacement of 0.45 Å2, which is about 100 times larger than those of typical regular chemical bonds. These unusual structural characteristics are consistent with either a vibrationally hot form of the CH2I–I isomer or the loosely-bound radical pair (CH2I˙⋯I˙).