Activated decay pathways for planar vs twisted singlet phenylalkenes

Frederick D Lewis*, Xiaobing Zuo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The ground state conformation, spectroscopy, and photochemical behavior of styrene and eight of its vinyl- and ring-methylated derivatives have been investigated. Introduction of methyl groups at the α-position of the vinyl group or the ortho positions of the phenyl results in increased phenyl-vinyl dihedral angles. Styrenes possessing both α-methyl and ortho-methyl groups adopt orthogonal geometries. Decreased planarity results in a progressive blue-shift in the lowest energy allowed π,π*transition and a decrease in the singlet lifetime. Kinetic modeling of the temperature-dependent singlet lifetimes provides activation parameters for the activated decay pathway, which is assigned to C=C torsion for styrenes with phenyl-vinyl dihedral angles, φ < 60°. Planar styrenes have large torsional barriers (7 ± 1 kcal/mol) and decay predominantly via intersystem crossing and fluorescence at room temperature. Styrenes with values of 30° < φ < 60° have smaller torsional barriers and decay predominantly via C=C torsion at room temperature. Highly nonplanar styrenes decay predominantly via relatively rapid, weakly activated intersystem crossing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8806-8813
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 23 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Activated decay pathways for planar vs twisted singlet phenylalkenes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this