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Potential energy surface crossings and the mechanistic spectrum for intramolecular electron transfer in organic radical cations.

  • Blancafort, L
  • Jolibois, F
  • Olivucci, M
  • Robb, M A
Published Article
Journal of the American Chemical Society
Publication Date
Jan 31, 2001
PMID: 11456586


The structure of the potential energy surface for the intramolecular electron transfer (IET) of four different model radical cations has been determined by using reaction path mapping and conical intersection optimization at the ab initio CASSCF level of theory. We show that, remarkably, the calculated paths reside in regions of the ground-state energy surface whose structure can be understood in terms of the position and properties of a surface crossing between the ground and the first excited state of the reactant. Thus, in the norbornadiene radical cation and in an analogue compound formed by two cyclopentene units linked by a norbornyl bridge, IET proceeds along direct-overlap and super-exchange concerted paths, respectively, that are located far from a sloped conical intersection point and in a region where the excited-state and ground-state surfaces are well separated. A second potential energy surface structure has been documented for 1,2-diamino ethane radical cation and features two parallel concerted (direct) and stepwise (chemical) paths. In this case a peaked conical intersection is located between the two paths. Finally, a third type of energy surface is documented for the bismethyleneadamantane radical cation and occurs when there is, effectively, a seam of intersection points (not a conical intersection) which separates the reactant and product regions. Since the reaction path cannot avoid the intersection, IET can only occur nonadiabatically. These IET paths indicate that quite different IET mechanisms may operate in radical cations, revealing an unexpectedly enriched and flexible mechanistic spectrum. We show that the origin of each path can be analyzed and understood in terms of the one-dimensional Marcus-Hush model.

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