Conformation-specific spectroscopy of alkyl benzyl radicals: Effects of a radical center on the CH stretch infrared spectrum of an alkyl chain Academic Article uri icon


  • An important initial step in the combustion of gasoline and diesel fuels is the abstraction of hydrogen from alkylbenzenes to form resonance-stabilized alkyl benzyl radicals. This work uses, for the first time, double resonance spectroscopy methods to explore the conformation-specific vibronic and infrared spectroscopy of the α-ethylbenzyl (αEtBz) and α-propylbenzyl (αPrBz) radicals. Local mode Hamiltonian modeling enables assignment of the alkyl CH stretch IR spectra, accounting for Fermi resonance that complicates aliphatic alkyl CH stretch IR spectroscopy. The ground state conformational preferences of the ethyl and propyl chains are changed from those in the alkylbenzenes themselves, with global minima occurring for an in-plane orientation of the alkyl chain (trans) about its first dihedral angle (ϕf123, numbers are alkyl C atoms. C1 is CH radical site). This in-plane structure is the only observed conformer for the α-EtBz radical, while two conformers, tt and tg' share this orientation at the first dihedral, but differ in the second (ϕ1234) for the αPrBz radical. The in-plane orientation lowers the local site frequencies of the CH2 group stretches immediately adjacent to the benzylic radical site by about 50 cm-1 relative to those in pure alkyl chains or alkylbenzenes. This effect of the radical site is localized on the first CH2 group, with little effect on subsequent members of the alkyl chain. In the D1 excited electronic state, an out-of-plane orientation is preferred for the alkyl chains, leading to torsional mode Franck-Condon activity in the D0-D1 spectra that is both conformer-specific and diagnostic of the conformational change.

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Korn, J. A., Tabor, D. P., Sibert, E. L., & Zwier, T. S.

citation count

  • 7

publication date

  • September 2016