How Do Methyl Groups Enhance the Triplet Chemiexcitation Yield of Dioxetane?

Chemiluminescence is the emission of light as a result of a nonadiabatic chemical reaction. The present work is concerned with understanding the yield of chemiluminescence, in particular how it dramatically increases upon methylation of 1,2-dioxetane. Both ground-state and nonadiabatic dynamics (including singlet excited states) of the decomposition reaction of various methyl-substituted dioxetanes have been simulated. Methyl-substitution leads to a significant increase in the dissociation time scale. The rotation around the O–C–C–O dihedral angle is slowed; thus, the molecular system stays longer in the “entropic trap” region. A simple kinetic model is proposed to explain how this leads to a higher chemiluminescence yield. These results have important implications for the design of efficient chemiluminescent systems in medical, environmental, and industrial applications.