Photo-ionization initiated differential ultrafast charge migration: impacts of molecular symmetries and tautomeric forms†
Photo-ionization induced ultrafast electron dynamics is considered as a precursor for the slower nuclear dynamics associated with molecular dissociation. Here, using the ab initio multielectron wave-packet propagation method, we study the overall many-electron dynamics, triggered by ionizing the outer-valence orbitals of different tautomers for a prototype molecule with more than one symmetry element. From the time evolution of the initially created averaged hole density of each system, we identify distinctly different charge dynamics responses in the tautomers. We observe that the keto form shows a charge migration direction away from the nitrogen bonded with hydrogen, while in enol−U – away from oxygen bonded to hydrogen. Additionally, the dynamics following the ionization of molecular orbitals with different symmetries reveals that a′ orbitals show a fast and highly delocalized charge density in comparison to a′′ symmetry. These observations indicate why different tautomers respond differently to an XUV ionization, and might explain the subsequent different fragmentation pathways. An experimental schematics allowing the detection and reconstruction of such charge dynamics is also proposed. Although the present study uses a simple, prototypical bio-relevant molecule, it reveals the explicit role of molecular symmetry and tautomerism in the ionization-triggered charge migration that controls many ultrafast physical, chemical, and biological processes, making tautomeric forms a promising tool of molecular design for desired charge migration.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2022 PCCP HOT Articles