Solvent Effects on Photochemistry and Photophysics of Aromatic Carbonyls : A Raman and Computational study
Venkatraman, Ravi Kumar
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Solvent effects play diverse roles in myriads of chemical, physical and biological processes. The solvent interacts with the solute by: i) non-specific (Coulombic, van der Waals interactions) and ii) specific interactions (hydrogen bonding, etc.). These interactions are responsible for solvation of the solute and are collectively termed as “solvent polarity”. Differential solvation of ground and excited electronic states is manifested in the absorption spectrum as a change in the band position, intensity or shape, which is termed as “solvatochromism”. Intermolecular hydrogen bonding (IHB) is a kind of specific solute-solvent interaction, which plays a key role in molecular or supramolecular photochemistry, as well as in photobiology. Solvation and its influence on various physico-chemical and biological processes can be understood by i) top-down; and ii) bottom-up approaches. In the top-down approach, the macroscopic properties like dielectric constant, refractive index are used to understand the microscopic solvation. This approach fails when specific interactions like hydrogen bonding interactions come into play, and furthermore it can reproduce only the macroscopic polarization of the solvent but fails miserably at the cybotactic region of solvation. With the recent advancements in the computational field, the molecular level description of solvation has been within reach for chemical physicists and experimentalists to corroborate their experimental results and in turn to visualize processes of fundamental or technologically relevant problems. The energy levels of the nπ* and ππ* singlet and triplet excited states of aromatic ketones are close-lying and therefore their energy levels can be altered by the substituents. The solvent polarity can be used as a surrogate to tune their energy levels. In certain cases, the lowest triplet or singlet excited states can switch their electronic character with increasing solvent polarity known as “electronic state switching” and thus modulate their photochemical or photophysical properties. Therefore, aromatic ketones were used as solvatochromic probes in this work. Comprehensive analyses of the solvent effects on xanthone (XT), 9,10-phenanthrenequinone (PQ) and benzophenone (Bzp) were carried out using steady-state and nanosecond time-resolved absorption, and resonance Raman spectroscopy in conjunction with ad hoc and classical-molecular dynamics and simulations generated supermolecule-continuum solvent model quantum mechanical calculations to corroborate the experimental outcomes and in turn to visualize the solvation process at the molecular level. The present thesis is divided into eight chapters and the summary of each chapter is described below: Chapter 1 provides a brief literature review of solvation effects and their influence on various physico-chemical and biological processes. Furthermore, the importance of understanding solvation at the molecular level and key concepts are discussed, which forms the heart of this thesis. Chapter 2 discusses the experimental and computational approaches used to study the solvation processes at the molecular level. A detailed explanation of spectroscopic techniques like resonance Raman (RR) and nanosecond-time resolved resonance Raman (ns-TR3) spectroscopy and their experimental and theoretical aspects are discussed, followed by a discussion on the fundamental concepts of computational methods like ab initio calculations density functional theory (DFT), and classical molecular dynamics and simulations (c-MDS) utilized in this study. Chapter 3 focuses on microscopic understanding of solvatochromic shifts observed for 9,10-phenanthrenequinone in protic solvents using UV-Vis and RR spectroscopy in conjunction with an ad hoc explicit solvation model and time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT) calculations. The hypsochromic shift and bathochromic shift of the singlet nπ* and ππ* electronic transitions in protic solvents are due to hydrogen bond weakening and strengthening in the excited state for the corresponding electronic transitions, respectively as indicated by TD-DFT calculations and Kamlet-Taft linear solvation energy relationships. The hydrogen bond strengthening in the singlet ππ* excited state is further confirmed by Raman excitation profile (REP) analysis of PQ in different solvents. Furthermore, with increasing solvent polarity the two lowest singlet excited states undergo different hydrogen bonding mechanisms, leading to a decreasing energy gap between them. Therefore, hyperchromism of the nπ* transition has been hypothesized to be due to an increasing vibronic coupling between the lowest singlet nπ* and ππ* excited states. In Chapter 4, a real time observation of the thermal equilibrium between the lowest triplet excited states of PQ in acetonitrile solvent was carried out using ns-TR3 spectroscopy and this can explain its high reactivity towards H-atom abstraction, despite the fact that the lowest triplet excited state has ππ* character. Furthermore, extending the concept of hydrogen bonding mechanisms of the lowest singlet to the triplet excited states, the different hydrogen bonding mechanisms exhibited by them can lead to alteration of the intersystem crossing mechanisms in PQ. Chapter 5 highlights the very different role of intermolecular hydrogen bonding in the reduced reactivity of the xanthone (XT) triplet towards H-atom abstraction in protic solvents. The different hydrogen bonding mechanisms exhibited by the two lowest triplet excited states in protic solvents are derived from an ad hoc explicit solvation model, TD-DFT calculations and ns-time resolved absorption (ns-TRA): they separate them further in energy and thereby the nearest T2(nπ*) triplet state to the T1(ππ*) excited state plays an insignificant role in the reactivity towards H-atom abstraction, in contrast to the PQ triplet discussed in Chapter 4. Chapter 6 discusses the structure of XT triplet states using TR3 spectroscopy in combination with TD-DFT studies. The TR3 spectrum of the XT in acetonitrile identified a vibronic coupling mode responsible for the reactivity of XT towards H-atom abstraction, despite the fact that the lowest triplet excited state (T1) has ππ* character. This vibronic active mode is absent in the TR3 spectra of XT in protic solvents (methanol and ethanol). Furthermore, the REP analysis suggests that the nanosecond triplet-triplet absorption spectrum of XT in acetonitrile involves two different species, while in methanol it involves only one species. This observation is in agreement with the previous chapter (Chapter 5) which proposes a different hydrogen bonding mechanisms for the two lowest triplet excited states and their influence on the reduced reactivity towards H-atom abstraction. Chapters 3-6 emphasize the need for a proper solvation model at the molecular level to describe the various photophysical and photochemical processes of aromatic ketones. Therefore, Chapter 7 includes discussions on the bottom-up solvation methodology applied to benzophenone (Bzp) to understand its vibrational and electronic solvatochromic behaviour at the molecular level. Raman and UV-Vis spectroscopic techniques were used in conjunction with a c-MDS-generated supermolecule continuum solvation model DFT calculation to corroborate and to visualize the experimental outcome. The carbonyl stretching frequency of Bzp in protic solvents has two bands, corresponding to free carbonyl and hydrogen bonded carbonyl. Despite the fact that the macroscopic polarity of acetonitrile and methanol solvents are similar, the free carbonyl stretching of Bzp in methanol solvent was blue-shifted by 4 cm-1 with respect to the carbonyl stretching in acetonitrile solvent. The Gutmann’s acceptor number plot for carbonyl stretching frequencies indicates that the free carbonyl group is neighboured by a hydrophobic environment. The c-MDS-generated supermolecule-continuum solvation model DFT calculations suggest that the extended hydrogen bonding network of methanol solvent is responsible for the hydrophobic solvation around the free carbonyl. Furthermore, a linear correlation was obtained for the vibrational and electronic solvatochromism of the carbonyl frequency and energy of the singlet nπ* transition, respectively, which indicates that a variation in excitation wavelength for the singlet nπ* transition can arise from different solvation states. This can have implications for ultrafast processes associated with electron transfer, charge-transfer and also the photophysical aspects of excited states.Finally, Chapter 8 contains overall conclusions of the thesis and future directions for the present research area.