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Adiabatic Versus Nonadiabatic Photoisomerization in Photochromic Ruthenium Sulfoxide Complexes: A Mechanistic Picture from Density Functional Theory Calculations.

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posted on 22.06.2011, 00:00 by Adrien J. Göttle, Isabelle M. Dixon, Fabienne Alary, Jean-Louis Heully, Martial Boggio-Pasqua
Polypyridine ruthenium sulfoxide complexes are intriguing compounds which can display both photochromic and electrochromic properties. These properties are based on the Ru–S → Ru–O linkage isomerization capability of the sulfoxide group. The photoisomerization mechanism is of particular importance in order to understand the photophysical properties of such molecules. Density functional theory calculations demonstrate that the main photoisomerization mechanism is nonadiabatic for the system under study in agreement with the experimental observations. Indeed, funnels for efficient radiationless decay back to the ground state are shown to be easily accessible compared to transition states on the adiabatic triplet potential energy surface. However, we highlight for the first time that triplet metal-centered states play a central role in the photoisomerization mechanism of these compounds.