Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Searching for conical intersections for singlet fission

Previously I have posted about the fascinating challenge of understanding singlet fission [and the inverse process of triplet-triplet annihilation] in large organic molecules.  A key feature to understand is how fission can occur in less than 100 femtoseconds, suggestive of a conical intersection between excited state potential energy surfaces.

In Telluride Nandini Ananth gave a nice talk about work described in the paper

The Low-Lying Electronic States of Pentacene and Their Roles in Singlet Fission 
Tao Zeng,  Roald Hoffmann , and Nandini Ananth

Diabatic states provide a natural and powerful approach to understanding what is going on.
The authors perform high level quantum chemistry calculations to describe the relevant electronic excited states. They claim that for a pair of pentacene molecules one needs to include at least six diabatic states. Their dominant electronic configuration is shown in the schematic below.
We find that only one of the two charge-transfer states, ac, is engaged in the SF [singlet fission] in pentacene; it is the low-lying charge-transfer state that gets closer to the multi- and single-exciton states. Moreover, the ac diabat can move into degeneracy with the single-exciton states, more effectively mediating the mixing of the bright single- to and dark multiexciton diabats. This finding is different from the basic assumption of high-lying charge-transfer states in the superexchange model, emphasizing the need to adapt the general SF model to specific cases.
Aside: I wonder if this is one the few papers that Hoffmann has co-authored where strong electron correlations are central.

In more recent work, the authors have tried to pin down what is the relevant nuclear co-ordinate [vibrational mode] associated with a conical intersection. It is not the intermolecular separation but may be instead the relative orientation [twisting] of the two penatacene molecules. This has included some constructive interaction with the experimental group of Luis Campos.

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