G. Floß, G. Granucci, P. Saalfrank
Surface hopping dynamics of direct trans-cis photoswitching of an azobenzene derivative in constrained adsorbate geometries
J. Chem. Phys. 2012, 137, 234701
DOI: 10.1063/1.4769087
With ongoing miniaturization of electronic devices, the need for individually addressable, switchable molecules arises. An example are azobenzenes on surfaces which have been shown to be switchable between trans and cis forms. Here, we examine the “direct” (rather than substrate-mediated) channel of the trans ? cis photoisomerization after ??* excitation of tetra-tert-butyl-azobenzene physisorbed on surfaces mimicking Au(111) and Bi(111), respectively. In spirit of the direct channel, the electronic structure of the surface is neglected, the latter merely acting as a rigid platform which weakly interacts with the molecule via Van-der-Waals forces. Starting from thermal ensembles which represent the trans-form, sudden excitations promote the molecules to ??*-excited states which are non-adiabatically coupled among themselves and to a n?*-excited and the ground state, respectively. After excitation, relaxation to the ground state by internal conversion takes place, possibly accompanied by isomerization. The process is described here by “on the fly” semiclassical surface hopping dynamics in conjunction with a semiempirical Hamiltonian (AM1) and configuration-interaction type methods. It is found that steric constraints imposed by the substrate lead to reduced but non-vanishing, trans ? cis reaction yields and longer internal conversion times than for the isolated molecule. Implications for recent experiments for azobenzenes on surfaces are discussed.
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