Photochemical degradation of the UV filter octyl methoxycinnamate in solution and in aggregates†
The photodegradation of the ultraviolet (UV) filter octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) is investigated in both dilute solution and in aggregated form. In dilute solution, the ratio of trans and cis isomers achieved at the photostationary state is solvent-dependent because of variations in the isomerization quantum yield. The two isomeric forms at the photostationary state are highly resistant to further photodegradation and no other UVA-absorbing species are formed. Aggregation of OMC, either in a neat film or in aqueous colloidal suspensions, leads to irreversible photodegradation of the molecule and the formation of multiple photoproducts. In addition to previously identified photoproducts like the UVB-absorbing cis and trans isomers and photodimers, we find photoproduct species whose absorption extends into the UVA. Characterization of the photophysical properties of these species indicates that they have long-lived excited-states (τf > 1 ns, 400 nm), unlike the isomeric forms of OMC (τf < 30 ps, 266 nm), and that excitation at 405 nm can sensitize the formation of singlet oxygen. These results show that the environment of OMC affects the photochemistry of the molecule and that the environmental conditions must be taken into account when considering the molecule's stability. In particular, aggregation of OMC molecules results in complex photochemistry that can produce species whose absorption extends into UVA and are capable of generating reactive oxygen species.