Non-Born-Oppenheimer effects in molecular photochemistry: An experimental perspective

Michael N R Ashfold, Sang Kyu Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Non-adiabatic couplings between Born-Oppenheimer-derived potential energy surfaces are now recognized as pivotal in describing the non-radiative decay of electronically excited molecules following photon absorption. This Opinion piece illustrates how non-Born-Oppenheimer effects provide photostability to many biomolecules when exposed to ultraviolet radiation, yet in many other cases are key to facilitating ‘reactive’ outcomes like isomerisation and bond fission. The examples are presented in order of decreasing molecular complexity, spanning studies of organic sunscreen molecules in solution, through two families of heteroatom containing aromatic molecules and culminating with studies of isolated gas phase H2O molecules that afford some of the most detailed insights yet available into the cascade of non-adiabatic couplings that enable the evolution from photoexcited molecule to eventual products.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Jun 2021


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