A theoretical investigation of p-hydroxyphenacyl caged phototrigger compounds: How water induces the photodeprotection and subsequent rearrangement reactions

Xuebo Chen, Ma Chensheng, Wai Ming Kwok, Xiangguo Guan, Yong Du, David Lee Phillips

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Complete active-space self-consistent field (CASSCF) calculations with a (14,11) active space and density functional theory calculations followed by Car-Parrinello molecular dynamic simulations are reported for the p-hydroxyphenacyl acetate, diethyl phosphate, and diphenyl phosphate phototrigger compounds. These calculations considered the explicit hydrogen bonding of water molecules to the phototrigger compound and help reveal the role of water in promoting the photodeprotection and subsequent rearrangement reactions for the p-hydroxyphenacyl caged phototrigger compounds experimentally observed in the presence of appreciable amounts of water but not observed in neat nonproton solvents like acetonitrile. The 267 nm excitation of the phototrigger compounds leads to an instantaneous population of the S3(1ππ*) state Franck-Condon region, which is followed by an internal conversion deactivation route to the S1(1ππ*) state via a1ππ*/1nπ* vibronic coupling. The shorter lifetime of the S1(1nπ*) state (∼1 ps) starting from the FC geometry is terminated by a fast intersystem crossing at a3ππ*/3nπ* intersection with a structure of mixed ππ*/nπ* excitation in the triplet state. The deprotection reaction is triggered by a proton (or hydrogen atom) transfer assisted by water bridges and emanates from this ππ*/nπ* triplet state intersection. With the departure of the leaving group, the reaction evolves into a water-mediated post-deprotection phase where the spin inversion of pQM (X,3A) leads to a spiroketone in the ground state by a cyclization process that is followed by an attack of water to produce a 1,1′-di-hydroxyl-spiroketone. Finally, the H atom of the hydroxyl in 1,1′-di-hydroxyl-spiroketon transfers back to the p-O atom aided by water molecules to generate the p-hydroxyphenyl-acetic acid final rearrangement product.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11832-11842
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number40
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry

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