Direct irradiation of crystalline cis,cis-1,4-diphenyl-1,3-butadiene (cc-DPB) forms trans,trans-1,4-diphenyl-1,3,-butadiene via a concerted two-bond isomerization called the bicycle pedal (BP) mechanism. However, little is known about photoisomerization pathways in the solid state and there has been much debate surrounding the interpretation of volume-conserving isomerization mechanisms. The bicycle pedal photoisomerization is investigated using the quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics complete active space self-consistent field/Amber force-field method. Important details about how the steric environment influences isomerization mechanisms are revealed including how the one-bond flip and hula-twist mechanisms are suppressed by the crystal cavity, the nature of the seam space in steric environments, and the features of the bicycle pedal mechanism. Specifically, in the bicycle pedal, the phenyl rings of cc-DPB are locked in place and the intermolecular packing allows a passageway for rotation of the central diene in a volume-conserving manner. In contrast, the bicycle pedal rotation in the gas phase is not a stable pathway, so single-bond rotation mechanisms become operative instead. Furthermore, the crystal BP mechanism is an activated process that occurs completely on the excited state; the photoproduct can decay to the ground state through radiative and non-radiative pathways. The present models, however, do not capture the quantitative activation barriers, and more work is needed to better model reactions in crystals. Last, the reaction barriers of the different crystalline conformations within the unit cell of cc-DPB are compared to investigate the possibility for conformation-dependent isomerization. Although some difference in reaction barriers is observed, the difference is most likely not responsible for the experimentally observed periods of fast and slow conversion.
Journal or Book Title
The Journal of Physical Chemistry A