Modeling the heating and cooling of a chromophore after photoexcitation†
The heating of a chromophore due to internal conversion and its cooling down due to energy dissipation to the solvent are crucial phenomena to characterize molecular photoprocesses. In this work, we simulated the ab initio nonadiabatic dynamics of cytosine, a prototypical chromophore undergoing ultrafast internal conversion, in three solvents—argon matrix, benzene, and water—spanning an extensive range of interactions. We implemented an analytical energy-transfer model to analyze these data and extract heating and cooling times. The model accounts for nonadiabatic effects, and excited- and ground-state energy transfer, and can analyze data from any dataset containing kinetic energy as a function of time. Cytosine heats up in the subpicosecond scale and cools down within 25, 4, and 1.3 ps in argon, benzene, and water, respectively. The time constants reveal that a significant fraction of the benzene and water heating occurs while cytosine is still electronically excited.