The near ultraviolet photodissociation dynamics of 2- and 3-substituted thiophenols: Geometric vs. electronic structure effects

Barbara Marchetti, Tolga N V Karsili, Maicol Cipriani, Christopher S Hansen, Michael N R Ashfold

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The near ultraviolet spectroscopy and photodissociation dynamics of two families of asymmetrically substituted thiophenols (2- and 3-YPhSH, with Y = F and Me) have been investigated experimentally (by H (Rydberg) atom photofragment translational spectroscopy) and by ab initio electronic structure calculations. Photoexcitation in all cases populates the 11ππ* and/or 11πσ* excited states and results in S–H bond fission. Analyses of the experimentally obtained total kinetic energy release (TKER) spectra yield the respective parent S–H bond strengths, estimates of ΔE(∼A−∼X), the energy splitting between the ground (∼X) and first excited (∼A) states of the resulting 2-(3-)YPhS radicals, and reveal a clear propensity for excitation of the C–S in-plane bending vibration in the radical products. The companion theory highlights roles for both geometric (e.g., steric effects and intramolecular H-bonding) and electronic (i.e., π (resonance) and σ (inductive)) effects in determining the respective parent minimum energy geometries, and the observed substituent and position-dependent trends in S–H bond strength and ΔE(∼A−∼X). 2-FPhSH shows some clear spectroscopic and photophysical differences. Intramolecular H-bonding ensures that most 2-FPhSH molecules exist as the syn rotamer, for which the electronic structure calculations return a substantial barrier to tunnelling from the photoexcited 11ππ* state to the 11πσ* continuum. The 11ππ* ← S0 excitation spectrum of syn-2-FPhSH thus exhibits resolved vibronic structure, enabling photolysis studies with a greater parent state selectivity. Structure apparent in the TKER spectrum of the H + 2-FPhS products formed when exciting at the 11ππ* ← S0 origin is interpreted by assuming unintended photoexcitation of an overlapping resonance associated with syn-2-FPhSH(v33 = 1) molecules. The present data offer tantalising hints that such out-of-plane motion influences non-adiabatic coupling in the vicinity of a conical intersection (between the 11πσ* and ground state potentials at extended S–H bond lengths) and thus the electronic branching in the eventual radical products.
Original languageEnglish
Article number013923
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number1
Early online date27 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2017


  • Photodissociation
  • Photoexcitations
  • Molecular spectra
  • Chemical bonds
  • Atomic spectra


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