Interplay of Open-Shell Spin-Coupling and Jahn-Teller Distortion in Benzene Radical Cation Probed by X-ray Spectroscopy

Marta Lopez Vidal, Michael Epshtein, Valeriu Scutelnic, Zheyue Yang, Tian Xue, Stephen R Leone, Anna I Krylov, Sonia Coriani*

*Corresponding author for this work

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We report a theoretical investigation and elucidation of the X-ray absorption spectra of neutral benzene and of the benzene cation. The generation of the cation by multiphoton ultraviolet (UV) ionization and the measurement of the carbon K-edge spectra of both species using a table-top high-harmonic generation source are described in the companion experimental paper [Epshtein, M.; et al. J. Phys. Chem. A]. We show that the 1sC → π transition serves as a sensitive signature of the transient cation formation, as it occurs outside of the spectral window of the parent neutral species. Moreover, the presence of the unpaired (spectator) electron in the π-subshell of the cation and the high symmetry of the system result in significant differences relative to neutral benzene in the spectral features associated with the 1sC → π* transitions. High-level calculations using equation-of-motion coupled-cluster theory provide the interpretation of the experimental spectra and insight into the electronic structure of benzene and its cation. The prominent split structure of the 1sC → π* band of the cation is attributed to the interplay between the coupling of the core → π* excitation with the unpaired electron in the π-subshell and the Jahn-Teller distortion. The calculations attribute most of the splitting (∼1-1.2 eV) to the spin coupling, which is visible already at the Franck-Condon structure, and we estimate the additional splitting due to structural relaxation to be around ∼0.1-0.2 eV. These results suggest that X-ray absorption with increased resolution might be able to disentangle electronic and structural aspects of the Jahn-Teller effect in the benzene cation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Part A: Molecules, Spectroscopy, Kinetics, Environment and General Theory
Issue number46
Pages (from-to)9532–9541
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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