Photochemistry and UV/vis spectroscopy of hydrated vanadium cations, V+(H2O)n, n = 1–41, a model system for photochemical hydrogen evolution†
Photochemical hydrogen evolution provides fascinating perspectives for light harvesting. Hydrated metal ions in the gas phase are ideal model systems to study elementary steps of this reaction on a molecular level. Here we investigate mass-selected hydrated monovalent vanadium ions, with a hydration shell ranging from 1 to 41 water molecules, by photodissociation spectroscopy. The most intense absorption bands correspond to 3d–4p transitions, which shift to the red from n = 1 to n = 4, corresponding to the evolution of a square-planar complex. Additional water molecules no longer interact directly with the metal center, and no strong systematic shift is observed in larger clusters. Evolution of atomic and molecular hydrogen competes with loss of water molecules for all V+(H2O)n, n ≤ 12. For n ≥ 15, no absorptions are observed, which indicates that the cluster ensemble is fully converted to HVOH+(H2O)n−1. For the smallest clusters, the electronic transitions are modeled using multireference methods with spin–orbit coupling. A large number of quintet and triplet states is accessible, which explains the broad features observed in the experiment. Water loss most likely occurs after a series of intersystem crossings and internal conversions to the electronic ground state or a low-lying quintet state, while hydrogen evolution is favored in low lying triplet states.
- This article is part of the themed collection: PCCP 2021 Emerging Investigators