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Triplet Decay Dynamics in Sulfur-Substituted Thymine: How Position of Substitution Matters

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journal contribution
posted on 16.12.2019 by Meghna A. Manae, Anirban Hazra
Sulfur-substituted analogues of thymine are of three types depending on the position of sulfur substitution: 2-thiothymine (2tThy), 4-thothymine (4tThy), and 2,4-dithiothymine (dtThy). These molecules, on photoexcitation, are known to form in their triplet state with near unity yield. Consequently, they are able to photosensitize ground state molecular oxygen to singlet oxygen, a property which makes them potential drugs for photodynamic therapy (PDT). The singlet oxygen yield is directly correlated with the triplet lifetime of the thiothymine, which in turn is governed by its triplet decay dynamics. In this work, the dependence of the triplet decay dynamics on the position of sulfur substitution is investigated by comparatively studying all three thiothymines. The topology of the triplet potential energy surface and decay mechanism of 2tThy is found to be distinctly different from 4tThy and dtThy. The fundamental reason for this is the different electronic natures of the two CX (X = O, S) moieties in each molecule, one of which is conjugated with a CC bond, while the other is not. Further, it is shown that the triplet lifetime of 2tThy can be increased by manipulating the energetic ordering of its molecular orbitals with unobtrusive substitutions, thus making it a better candidate for a PDT drug.