Photoexcitation of iodide ion-pyrimidine clusters above the electron detachment threshold: Intracluster electron transfer versus nucleobase-centred excitations

Edward Matthews, Rosaria Cercola, Golda Mensa-Bonsu, Daniel M. Neumark, Caroline E.H. Dessent*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Laser photodissociation spectroscopy of the I-·thymine (I-·T) and I-·cytosine (I-·C) nucleobase clusters has been conducted for the first time across the regions above the electron detachment thresholds to explore the excited states and photodissociation channels. Although photodepletion is strong, only weak ionic photofragment signals are observed, indicating that the clusters decay predominantly by electron detachment. The photodepletion spectra of the I-·T and I-·C clusters display a prominent dipole-bound excited state (I) in the vicinity of the vertical detachment energy (∼4.0 eV). Like the previously studied I-·uracil (I-·U) cluster [W. L. Li et al., J. Chem. Phys. 145, 044319 (2016)], the I-·T cluster also displays a second excited state (II) centred at 4.8 eV, which we similarly assign to a π-π∗ nucleobase-localized transition. However, no distinct higher-energy absorption bands are evident in the spectra of the I-·C. Time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT) calculations are presented, showing that while each of the I-·T and I-·U clusters displays a single dominant π-π∗ nucleobase-localized transition, the corresponding π-π∗ nucleobase transitions for I-·C are split across three separate weaker electronic excitations. I- and deprotonated nucleobase anion photofragments are observed upon photoexcitation of both I-·U and I-·T, with the action spectra showing bands (at 4.0 and 4.8 eV) for both the I- and deprotonated nucleobase anion production. The photofragmentation behaviour of the I-·C cluster is distinctive as its I- photofragment displays a relatively flat profile above the expected vertical detachment energy. We discuss the observed photofragmentation profiles of the I-·pyrimidine clusters, in the context of the previous time-resolved measurements, and conclude that the observed photoexcitations are primarily consistent with intracluster electron transfer dominating in the near-threshold region, while nucleobase-centred excitations dominate close to 4.8 eV. TDDFT calculations suggest that charge-transfer transitions [Iodide n (5p6) → Uracil σ∗] may contribute to the cluster absorption profile across the scanned spectral region, and the possible role of these states is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number084304
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number8
Early online date26 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2018

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