Excited state dynamics and time-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy of para-xylylene
We investigated the excited-state dynamics of para-xylylene using a combination of field-induced surface hopping (FISH) simulations and time-resolved ionisation experiments. Our simulations predict an ultrafast decay of the initially excited bright state (S2/S3) to the S1 state on a sub-100 fs time scale, followed by return to the ground state within ∼1 ps. This is accompanied by a transient change of the biradical character of the molecule, as monitored by calculating natural orbital occupation numbers. Specifically, the initially low biradicality is increased by electronic excitation as well as by vibrational activation. Experimentally, para-xylylene was generated by pyrolysis from [2,2]paracyclophane and excited with 266 nm radiation into the S2/S3 bright state. The subsequent dynamics were followed using ionisation as the probe step, with both mass spectra and photoelectron spectra recorded as a function of pump–probe delay. The observed decay of photoelectron and photoion intensities closely matches the theoretical predictions and is consistent with the sequential mechanism found in the simulations. This mechanism exhibits characteristic signatures in both time-resolved mass and photoelectron spectra, in particular in the appearance of fragment ions that are exclusively generated from the S1 state. This allows for a separation of the S2 and S1 dynamics in the photoelectron and mass spectra. An excellent agreement between the observed and the simulated ion signal is observed.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Quantum effects in small molecular systems