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J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Apr 6;127(13):4560-1.

Competitive decay at two- and three-state conical intersections in excited-state intramolecular proton transfer.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Beckman Institute, and Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 600 South Mathews Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


We demonstrate the existence of a simultaneous degeneracy (not required by symmetry) of three electronic states in malonaldehyde. This is one of the first reports of such a triple degeneracy involving S0, S1, and S2 in a molecule with a closed-shell ground state. We further report on a two-state S2/S1 conical intersection which is higher in energy than the three-state intersection, but closer to the Franck-Condon point. First-principles quantum dynamics calculations of the photochemistry after excitation to S2 show that there is a competition between these intersections, with more than half of the population decaying to S1 through the higher energy S2/S1 intersection. Surprisingly, much of the population which makes it to the triple degeneracy point is not funneled directly to S0, but rather remains trapped on S1. We attribute this to the large dimensionality of the branching plane at a three-state intersection (the degeneracy is lifted along at least five distinct molecular displacements).

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