The non-adiabatic nanoreactor: towards the automated discovery of photochemistry†
The ab initio nanoreactor has previously been introduced to automate reaction discovery for ground state chemistry. In this work, we present the nonadiabatic nanoreactor, an analogous framework for excited state reaction discovery. We automate the study of nonadiabatic decay mechanisms of molecules by probing the intersection seam between adiabatic electronic states with hyper-real metadynamics, sampling the branching plane for relevant conical intersections, and performing seam-constrained path searches. We illustrate the effectiveness of the nonadiabatic nanoreactor by applying it to benzene, a molecule with rich photochemistry and a wide array of photochemical products. Our study confirms the existence of several types of S0/S1 and S1/S2 conical intersections which mediate access to a variety of ground state stationary points. We elucidate the connections between conical intersection energy/topography and the resulting photoproduct distribution, which changes smoothly along seam space segments. The exploration is performed with minimal user input, and the protocol requires no previous knowledge of the photochemical behavior of a target molecule. We demonstrate that the nonadiabatic nanoreactor is a valuable tool for the automated exploration of photochemical reactions and their mechanisms.