Dynamical insights into 1πσ* state mediated photodissociation of aniline

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This article reports a comprehensive study of the mechanisms of H atom loss in aniline (C(6)H(5)NH(2)) following ultraviolet excitation, using H (Rydberg) atom photofragment translational spectroscopy. N-H bond fission via the low lying (1)pi sigma(*) electronic state of aniline is experimentally demonstrated. The (1)pi sigma(*) potential energy surface (PES) of this prototypical aromatic amine is essentially repulsive along the N-H stretch coordinate, but possesses a shallow potential well in the vertical Franck-Condon region, supporting quasibound vibrational levels. Photoexcitation at wavelengths (lambda(phot)) in the range 293.859 nm > or = lambda(phot) > or = 193.3 nm yields H atom loss via a range of mechanisms. With lambda(phot) resonant with the 1(1)pi pi(*) <-- S(0) origin (293.859 nm), H atom loss proceeds via, predominantly, multiphoton excitation processes, resonantly enhanced at the one photon energy by the first (1)pi pi(*) excited state (the 1(1)pi pi(*) state). Direct excitation to the first few quasibound vibrational levels of the (1)pi sigma(*) state (at wavelengths in the range 269.513 nm > or = lambda(phot) > or = 260 nm) induces N-H bond fission via H atom tunneling through an exit barrier into the repulsive region of the (1)pi sigma(*) PES, forming anilino (C(6)H(5)NH) radical products in their ground electronic state, and with very limited vibrational excitation; the photo-prepared vibrational mode in the (1)pi sigma(*) state generally evolves adiabatically into the corresponding mode of the anilino radical upon dissociation. However, as the excitation wavelength is reduced (lambda(phot) < 260 nm), N-H bond fission yields fragments with substantially greater vibrational excitation, rationalized in terms of direct excitation to 1(1)pi pi(*) levels, followed by coupling to the (1)pi sigma(*) PES via a 1(1)pi pi(*)/(1)pi sigma(*) conical intersection. Changes in product kinetic energy disposal once lambda(phot) approaches approximately 230 nm likely indicate that the photodissociation pathways of aniline proceed via direct excitation to the (higher) 2(1)pi pi(*) state. Analysis of the anilino fragment vibrational energy disposal-and thus the concomitant dynamics of (1)pi sigma(*) state mediated photodissociation-provides a particularly interesting study of competing sigma(*) <-- pi and pi(*) <-- pi absorption processes and develops our appreciation of the photochemistry of aromatic amines. It also allows revealing comparisons with simple amines (such as ammonia and methylamine) as well as the isoelectronic species, phenol. This study yields a value for the N-H bond strength in aniline, D(0)(H-anilino) = 31630+/-40 cm(-1).

Original languageEnglish
Article number214307
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2010


  • Aniline Compounds
  • Photochemistry
  • Quantum Theory
  • Thermodynamics
  • Vibration


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