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J Chem Phys. 2017 Oct 28;147(16):164302. doi: 10.1063/1.5001375.

Watching proton transfer in real time: Ultrafast photoionization-induced proton transfer in phenol-ammonia complex cation.

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Department of Chemistry, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan 30043, Republic of China.


In this paper, we give a full account of our previous work [C. C. Shen et al., J. Chem. Phys. 141, 171103 (2014)] on the study of an ultrafast photoionization-induced proton transfer (PT) reaction in the phenol-ammonia (PhOH-NH3) complex using ultrafast time-resolved ion photofragmentation spectroscopy implemented by the photoionization-photofragmentation pump-probe detection scheme. Neutral PhOH-NH3 complexes prepared in a free jet are photoionized by femtosecond 1 + 1 resonance-enhanced multiphoton ionization via the S1 state. The evolving cations are then probed by delayed pulses that result in ion fragmentation, and the ionic dynamics is followed by measuring the parent-ion depletion as a function of the pump-probe delay time. By comparing with systems in which PT is not feasible and the steady-state ion photofragmentation spectra, we concluded that the observed temporal evolutions of the transient ion photofragmentation spectra are consistent with an intracomplex PT reaction after photoionization from the initial non-PT to the final PT structures. Our experiments revealed that PT in [PhOH-NH3]+ cation proceeds in two distinct steps: an initial impulsive wave-packet motion in ∼70 fs followed by a slower relaxation of about 1 ps that stabilizes the system into the final PT configuration. These results indicate that for a barrierless PT system, even though the initial PT motions are impulsive and ultrafast, the time scale to complete the reaction can be much slower and is determined by the rate of energy dissipation into other modes.


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