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Competitive solvent-molecule interactions govern primary processes of diphenylcarbene in solvent mixtures

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Sokkar,  Pandian
Research Group Sánchez-García, Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Max Planck Society;

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Thiel,  Walter
Research Department Thiel, Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Max Planck Society;

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Sanchez-Garcia,  Elsa
Research Group Sánchez-García, Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Knorr, J., Sokkar, P., Schott, S., Costa, P., Thiel, W., Sander, W., et al. (2016). Competitive solvent-molecule interactions govern primary processes of diphenylcarbene in solvent mixtures. Nature Communications, 7: 12968. doi:10.1038/ncomms12968.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-8485-B
Abstract
Photochemical reactions in solution often proceed via competing reaction pathways comprising intermediates that capture a solvent molecule. A disclosure of the underlying reaction mechanisms is challenging due to the rapid nature of these processes and the intricate identification of how many solvent molecules are involved. Here combining broadband femtosecond transient absorption and quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics simulations, we show for one of the most reactive species, diphenylcarbene, that the decision-maker is not the nearest solvent molecule but its neighbour. The hydrogen bonding dynamics determine which reaction channels are accessible in binary solvent mixtures at room temperature. In-depth analysis of the amount of nascent intermediates corroborates the importance of a hydrogen-bonded complex with a protic solvent molecule, in striking analogy to complexes found at cryogenic temperatures. Our results show that adjacent solvent molecules take the role of key abettors rather than bystanders for the fate of the reactive intermediate.