Comparative studies of the trans-cis photoisomerizations of azobenzene and a bridged azobenzene. Academic Article uri icon


  • Using density-functional-based molecular dynamics simulations, we have performed comparative studies of the trans-cis isomerizations of azobenzene and bridged azobenzene (B-Ab) 5,6-dihydrodibenzo[c,g][1,2]diazocine induced by nπ* electronic excitation. The quantum yields found in our calculations, 45% for the bridged azobenzene versus 25% for azobenzene, are consistent with the experiment. Both isomerization processes involve two steps: (1) Starting from the trans structure, each molecule moves on its S(1) excited-state potential energy surface, via rotation around the NN bond, to an avoided crossing near the S(1)/S(0) conical intersection, where de-excitation occurs. (2) Subsequently, in the electronic ground state, there is further rotation around the NN bond, accompanied by twisting of the phenyl rings around their CN bonds, until the cis geometry is achieved. Because of its lower symmetry and smaller initial CNNC dihedral angle, the bridged azobenzene has a much shorter lifetime for the S(1) excited state, about 30 fs, as compared to about 400 fs for azobenzene. However, we find that the complete isomerizations have approximately the same time scales. Although the bridging feature in trans-B-Ab does not hinder rotation around the NN bond in step 1, it makes twisting of the two phenyl rings around the CN bonds much slower in step 2.

author list (cited authors)

  • Jiang, C., Xie, R., Li, F., & Allen, R. E.

citation count

  • 41

publication date

  • January 2011