Resolving Femtosecond Solvent Reorganization Dynamics in an Iron Complex by Nonadiabatic Dynamics Simulations

Diana Bregenholt Zederkof, Klaus B. Møller, Martin M. Nielsen, Kristoffer Haldrup, Leticia González, Sebastian Mai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The ultrafast dynamical response of solute-solvent interactions plays a key role in transition metal complexes, where charge transfer states are ubiquitous. Nonetheless, there exist very few excited-state simulations of transition metal complexes in solution. Here, we carry out a nonadiabatic dynamics study of the iron complex [Fe(CN)4(bpy)]2- (bpy = 2,2'-bipyridine) in explicit aqueous solution. Implicit solvation models were found inadequate for reproducing the strong solvatochromism in the absorption spectra. Instead, direct solute-solvent interactions, in the form of hydrogen bonds, are responsible for the large observed solvatochromic shift and the general dynamical behavior of the complex in water. The simulations reveal an overall intersystem crossing time scale of 0.21 ± 0.01 ps and a strong reliance of this process on nuclear motion. A charge transfer character analysis shows a branched decay mechanism from the initially excited singlet metal-to-ligand charge transfer (1MLCT) states to triplet states of 3MLCT and metal-centered (3MC) character. We also find that solvent reorganization after excitation is ultrafast, on the order of 50 fs around the cyanides and slower around the bpy ligand. In contrast, the nuclear vibrational dynamics, in the form of Fe-ligand bond changes, takes place on slightly longer time scales. We demonstrate that the surprisingly fast solvent reorganizing should be observable in time-resolved X-ray solution scattering experiments, as simulated signals show strong contributions from the solute-solvent scattering cross term. Altogether, the simulations paint a comprehensive picture of the coupled and concurrent electronic, nuclear, and solvent dynamics and interactions in the first hundreds of femtoseconds after excitation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number28
Pages (from-to)12861-12873
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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