skip to main content

Title: Vibrational coherence and quantum yield of retinal-chromophore-inspired molecular switches
UV-Vis transient absorption (TA) spectroscopy is used to carry out a systematic investigation of the ultrafast CC double photoisomerization dynamics and quantum yield of each isomer of a set of six chromophores based on the same retinal-inspired, indanylidene pyrrolinium (IP) molecular framework. All compounds undergo a sub-picosecond photoisomerization, and can be categorized within two photoisomerization scenarios. Scenario I corresponds to compounds which display the signatures of a vibrationally coherent reactive motion through the conical intersection, with different degrees of vibrational coherence. Qualitatively distinct TA signatures are observed for other compounds which are therefore proposed to obey scenario II, referring to an intermediate regime between scenario I and a thermally-equilibrated, fully stochastic photoreaction. Remarkably, the photoisomerization scenario is observed to correlate with the computed distortion from planarity of the ground state equilibrium geometry, reflecting the torsional strain that would be released after photoexcitation. The most planar compounds – i.e. those having a CC double bond pre-twist of less than 10° – obey scenario II, while compounds obeying scenario I have larger pre-twists. The most pre-twisted compounds (>15°) show pronounced oscillatory signatures of a reaction-induced, low-frequency vibrational wavepacket observed in the S 0 photoproduct and assigned to the torsion mode of the more » reaction coordinate, thus mimicking the vibrationally coherent photoisomerization dynamics of the rhodopsin protein. Importantly, the systematic comparison of all photoisomerization quantum yields does however not reveal any correlation with observables such as excited state life time, vibrational coherence, absorption wavelengths or degree of pre-twisting. « less
; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Faraday Discussions
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The concerted interplay between reactive nuclear and electronic motions in molecules actuates chemistry. Here, we demonstrate that out-of-plane torsional deformation and vibrational excitation of stretching motions in the electronic ground state modulate the charge-density distribution in a donor-bridge-acceptor molecule in solution. The vibrationally-induced change, visualised by transient absorption spectroscopy with a mid-infrared pump and a visible probe, is mechanistically resolved by ab initio molecular dynamics simulations. Mapping the potential energy landscape attributes the observed charge-coupled coherent nuclear motions to the population of the initial segment of a double-bond isomerization channel, also seen in biological molecules. Our results illustrate the pivotal role of pre-twisted molecular geometries in enhancing the transfer of vibrational energy to specific molecular modes, prior to thermal redistribution. This motivates the search for synthetic strategies towards achieving potentially new infrared-mediated chemistry.
  2. Since green fluorescent protein (GFP) has revolutionized molecular and cellular biology for about three decades, there has been a keen interest in understanding, designing, and controlling the fluorescence properties of GFP chromophore ( i.e. , HBDI) derivatives from the protein matrix to solution. Amongst these cross-disciplinary efforts, the elucidation of excited-state dynamics of HBDI derivatives holds the key to correlating the light-induced processes and fluorescence quantum yield (FQY). Herein, we implement steady-state electronic spectroscopy, femtosecond transient absorption (fs-TA), femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy (FSRS), and quantum calculations to study a series of mono- and dihalogenated HBDI derivatives (X = F, Cl, Br, 2F, 2Cl, and 2Br) in basic aqueous solution, gaining new insights into the photophysical reaction coordinates. In the excited state, the halogenated “floppy” chromophores exhibit an anti-heavy atom effect, reflected by strong correlations between FQY vs. Franck–Condon energy ( E FC ) or Stokes shift, and k nr vs. E FC , as well as a swift bifurcation into the I-ring (major) and P-ring (minor) twisting motions. In the ground state, both ring-twisting motions become more susceptible to sterics and exhibit spectral signatures from the halogen-dependent hot ground-state absorption band decay in TA data. We envision this type ofmore »systematic analysis of the halogenated HBDI derivatives to provide guiding principles for the site-specific modification of GFP chromophores, and expand design space for brighter and potentially photoswitchable organic chemical probes in aqueous solution with discernible spectral signatures throughout the photocycle.« less
  3. The photodissociation dynamics of alkyl iodides along the C–I bond are captured by attosecond extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) transient absorption spectroscopy employing resonant ∼20 fs UV pump pulses. The methodology of previous experiments on CH3I [Chang et al., J. Chem. Phys. 154, 234301 (2021)] is extended to the investigation of a C–I bond-breaking reaction in the dissociative A-band of C2H5I, i-C3H7I, and t-C4H9I. Probing iodine 4 d core-to-valence transitions in the XUV enables one to map wave packet bifurcation at a conical intersection in the A-band as well as coherent vibrations in the ground state of the parent molecules. Analysis of spectroscopic bifurcation signatures yields conical intersection crossing times of 15 ± 4 fs for CH3I, 14 ± 5 fs for C2H5I, and 24 ± 4 fs for i-C3H7I and t-C4H9I, respectively. Observations of coherent vibrations, resulting from a projection of A-band structural dynamics onto the ground state by resonant impulsive stimulated Raman scattering, indirectly reveal multimode C–I stretch and CCI bend vibrations in the A-bands of C2H5I, i-C3H7I, and t-C4H9I.

  4. Bis(bithienyl)-1,2-dicyanoethene (4TCE) is a photoswitch that operates via reversible E / Z photoisomerization following absorption of visible light. cis -to- trans photoisomerization of 4TCE requires excitation below 470 nm, is relatively inefficient (quantum yield < 5%) and occurs via the lowest-lying triplet. We present excitation-wavelength dependent (565–420 nm) transient absorption (TA) studies to probe the photophysics of cis -to- trans isomerization to identify sources of switching inefficiency. TA data reveals contributions from more than one switch conformer and relaxation cascades between multiple states. Fast (∼4 ps) and slow (∼40 ps) components of spectral dynamics observed at low excitation energies (>470 nm) are readily attributed to deactivation of two conformers; this assignment is supported by computed thermal populations and absorption strengths of two molecular geometries (P A and P B ) characterized by roughly parallel dipoles for the thiophenes on opposite sides of the ethene bond. Only the P B conformer is found to contribute to triplet population and the switching of cis -4TCE: high-energy excitation (<470 nm) of P B involves direct excitation to S 2 , relaxation from which prepares an ISC-active S 1 geometry (ISC QY 0.4–0.67, k ISC ∼ 1.6–2.6 × 10 −9 s −1 ) thatmore »is the gateway to triplet population and isomerization. We ascribe low cis -to- trans isomerization yield to excitation of the nonreactive P A conformer (75–85% loss) as well as loses along the P B S 2 → S 1 → T 1 cascade (10–20% loss). In contrast, electrocyclization is inhibited by the electronic character of the excited states, as well as a non-existent thermal population of a reactive “antiparallel” ring conformation.« less
  5. Cyanobacteriochromes (CBCRs) are promising optogenetic tools for their diverse absorption properties with a single compact cofactor-binding domain. We previously uncovered the ultrafast reversible photoswitching dynamics of a red/green photoreceptor AnPixJg2, which binds phycocyanobilin (PCB) that is unavailable in mammalian cells. Biliverdin (BV) is a mammalian cofactor with a similar structure to PCB but exhibits redder absorption. To improve the AnPixJg2 feasibility in mammalian applications, AnPixJg2_BV4 with only four mutations has been engineered to incorporate BV. Herein, we implemented femtosecond transient absorption (fs-TA) and ground state femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy (GS-FSRS) to uncover transient electronic dynamics on molecular time scales and key structural motions responsible for the photoconversion of AnPixJg2_BV4 with PCB (Bpcb) and BV (Bbv) cofactors in comparison with the parent AnPixJg2 (Apcb). Bpcb adopts the same photoconversion scheme as Apcb, while BV4 mutations create a less bulky environment around the cofactor D ring that promotes a faster twist. The engineered Bbv employs a reversible clockwise/counterclockwise photoswitching that requires a two-step twist on ~5 and 35 picosecond (ps) time scales. The primary forward Pfr → Po transition displays equal amplitude weights between the two processes before reaching a conical intersection. In contrast, the primary reverse Po → Pfr transition showsmore »a 2:1 weight ratio of the ~35 ps over 5 ps component, implying notable changes to the D-ring-twisting pathway. Moreover, we performed pre-resonance GS-FSRS and quantum calculations to identify the Bbv vibrational marker bands at ~659,797, and 1225 cm−1. These modes reveal a stronger H-bonding network around the BV cofactor A ring with BV4 mutations, corroborating the D-ring-dominant reversible photoswitching pathway in the excited state. Implementation of BV4 mutations in other PCB-binding GAF domains like AnPixJg4, AM1_1870g3, and NpF2164g5 could promote similar efficient reversible photoswitching for more directional bioimaging and optogenetic applications, and inspire other bioengineering advances.« less