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J Am Chem Soc. 2004 Feb 4;126(4):1277-84.

Photoinduced intramolecular charge transfer in 4-(dimethyl)aminobenzonitrile--a theoretical perspective.

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  • 1Institut für Physikalische Chemie, Universität Karlsruhe, Kaiserstrasse 12, 76128 Karlsruhe, Germany.


Recent advances in time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT) have led to computational methods that can predict properties of photoexcited molecules with satisfactory accuracy at comparably moderate cost. We apply these methods to study the photophysics and photochemistry of 4-(dimethyl)aminobenzonitrile (DMABN). DMABN is considered the paradigm of photoinduced intramolecular charge transfer (ICT), leading to dual fluorescence in polar solvents. By comparison of calculated emission energies, dipole moments, and vibrational frequencies with recent results from transient spectroscopy measurements, a definitive assignment of the electronic and geometric structure of the two lowest singlet excited states of DMABN is possible for the first time. We investigate the mechanism of the ICT reaction by means of minimum energy path calculations. The results confirm existing state-crossing models of dual fluorescence. Our study suggests that analytical TDDFT derivative methods will be useful to predict and classify emissive properties of other donor-acceptor systems as well.

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