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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry