Resolving photoisomerization dynamics via ultrafast UV-visible transient absorption spectroscopy
Transient absorption spectroscopy has been employed to investigate three photo–active compounds; azobenzene, foldamer controlled by azobenzene, and oxazine. These compounds all have absorption in the ultra–violet regions responsible for their photo–active behavior. Due to this, the current transient absorption setup has been modified to extend the probing wavelength range to 320–650 nm, with the possibility of exciting the photo–active molecule in the ultra–violet. Azobenzene is valuable in benchmarking and optimizing the transient absorption setup, it shows that the detection window has been extended out to 320 nm. By resolving the ground state bleach we have added support for the assignment of the final decay to thermalization in the ground state. Comparison of relaxation lifetime in acetonitrile and tetrahydrofuran shows no noticeable change in the photophysics of isomerization between the two solvents. The foldamer family excited state relaxation is similar to azobenzene. There is an extension in the S₁ branching lifetime from 1.1 ps in azobenzene to 1.7 ps for foldamer 1 and 4.2 ps for foldamer 2. The separation of branching on the S₁ surface and relaxation through the S₁ to electronic ground state intersection was possible by comparison of azobenzene and foldamer family. The solvent effects show little difference for all members of the foldamer family expect for foldamer 2, suggesting that the dynamics of the azobenzene moiety are not affected by the larger macro–structure of the foldamer. For oxazine it has been established, by varying solvent polarity, that isomerization happens through three states; bond breakage, transfer to a dark state, and the final photo–isomer. This is confirmed by further studies completed after the introduction of electron withdrawing fluorine atoms. Carbon–oxygen bond cleavage occurs on the picosecond timescale, with solvent dependent rotation occurring in hundreds of picoseconds. Fluorinated oxazine shows a strong solvent dependence with rotation suppressed for all but the most polar of solvents.