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Electronic Spectrum of the Tropylium Cation in the Gas Phase

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journal contribution
posted on 05.10.2020, 20:46 by Ugo Jacovella, Michael S. Scholz, Evan J. Bieske
The structure and properties of the tropylium cation (C7H7+) have enthralled chemists since the prediction by Hückel in 1931 of the remarkable stability for cyclic, aromatic molecules containing six π-electrons. However, probing and understanding the excited electronic states of the isolated tropylium cation have proved challenging, as the accessible electronic transitions are weak, and there are difficulties in creating appreciable populations of the tropylium cation in the gas phase. Here, we present the first gas-phase S1 ←S0 electronic spectrum of the tropylium cation, recorded by resonance-enhanced photodissociation of weakly bound tropylium–Ar complexes. We demonstrate that the intensity of the symmetry-forbidden S1 ←S0 transition arises from Herzberg–Teller vibronic coupling between the S1 and S2 electronic states mediated by vibrational modes of e2′ and e3′ symmetry. The main geometry change upon excitation involves elongation of the C–C bonds. Multiconfigurational ab initio calculations predict that the S1 excited state is affected by the dynamical Jahn–Teller effect, which should lead to the appearance of additional weak bands that may be apparent in higher-resolution electronic spectra.