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Toward the Understanding of the Photophysics and Photochemistry of 1‑Nitronaphthalene under Solar Radiation: The First Theoretical Evidence of a Photodegradation Intramolecular Rearrangement Mechanism Involving the Triplet States

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journal contribution
posted on 09.09.2014, 00:00 by Angelo Giussani
1-Nitronaphthalene belongs to the class of nitrated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and constitutes an atmospheric pollutant commonly found in urban environments due to its production during incomplete combustions. On the basis of CASPT2//CASSCF quantum chemical calculations, the photophysics and photochemistry of the system under solar exposure have for the first time been studied. According to the characteristics of the incident radiation (either UVA or UVB, both present in the portion of the solar spectrum reaching the earth), a different excited state will be mainly populated. In both cases, the main decay path undertaken by the corresponding bright state leads to an efficient intersystem crossing process toward the 3Oπ*) triplet excited state. The population of the triplet manifold is then identified as the primary photoinduced process in the title molecule, not only after UVA interaction but also under UVB exposure. From the 3Oπ*) state, the system can either decay in a radiationless manner to the original ground state minimum, or undergo a photodegradation process mediated by the presence of an accessible singlet–triplet crossing region characterized by the formation of a oxaziridine ring. The determination of such a photodegradation path constitutes the first theoretical evidence supporting the hypothesis formulated almost 50 years ago in the seminal work of Chapman et al. (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1966, 88, 5550), according to which the photolysis undertaken by nitrated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons proceeds through an intramolecular rearrangement mechanism, here characterized on the triplet manifold.