Ultrafast Dynamics of Encapsulated Molecules Reveals New Insight on the Photoisomerization Mechanism for Azobenzenes

Christopher J. Otolski, A. Mohan Raj, Vaidhyanathan Ramamurthy, Christopher G. Elles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Spatial confinement can have a profound impact on the dynamics of chemical reactions, especially for isomerization reactions that involve large-amplitude structural rearrangement of a molecule. This work uses ultrafast spectroscopy to probe the effects of confinement on trans → cis photoisomerization following ππ∗ excitation of 4-propyl stilbene and 4-propyl azobenzene encapsulated in a supramolecular host-guest complex. Transient absorption spectroscopy of the encapsulated azobenzene derivative reveals the formation of two distinct excited-state species with spectral signatures resembling the cis and trans isomers. Formation of the cis species indicates a direct excited-state isomerization channel that is not observed in cyclohexane solution. Comparison with the stilbene analogue suggests that this "hot" excited-state isomerization pathway for encapsulated azobenzene involves primarily in-plane inversion, whereas a 10-fold increase of the excited-state lifetime for the trans isomer suggests that crowding in the capsule hinders isomerization from the relaxed S 1 geometry of the trans isomer. This work provides new mechanistic insight on the relative roles of inversion and rotation in the ultrafast photoisomerization of azobenzene derivatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-127
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 3 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Ultrafast Dynamics of Encapsulated Molecules Reveals New Insight on the Photoisomerization Mechanism for Azobenzenes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this