Femtosecond transient absorption and nanosecond time-resolved resonance raman study of the solvent-dependent photo-deprotection reaction of benzoin diethyl phosphate

Chensheng Ma, Yong Du, Wai Ming Kwok, David Lee Phillips

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


A combined femtosecond transient absorption (fs-TA) and nanosecond time-resolved resonance Raman (ns-TR3) study was performed to directly detect the dynamics and elucidate the mechanism of the excited state deactivation and solvent-dependent photo-deprotection pathways for benzoin diethyl phosphate (BDP) in neat acetonitrile (MeCN) and 75% H2O/25% MeCN. Comparison of the TA spectral evolution observed in the two solvents provides explicit evidence that the photophysical deactivation of the BDP singlet excited state has little solvent dependence. The TA spectra also indicate the related internal conversion (IC) and intersystem crossing (ISC) processes occur rapidly on hundreds of femtoseconds and ∼2-3 ps time scales, respectively. From this and in conjunction with a photochemistry study and ground state resonance Raman (RR) measurements, the TA results reveal that the phenacyl localized BDP triplet state (that is mainly nπ* nature) is the common and immediate precursor to the photo-deprotection reaction in both solvents. However, the triplet deprotection follows different pathways in neat MeCN versus the largely water containing solvent. The deprotection reaction in MeCN was determined to occur with a ∼1 ns time constant and the reaction was found to be an unimolecular process leading to elimination of the diethyl phosphoric acid apparently concurrent with cyclization to yield the benzofuran product. In the water mixed solvent, the triplet reaction was observed to proceed with a ∼15 ns time constant and the reaction leads to not only the deprotection-cyclization but also a heterolytic dissociation to release the diethyl phosphate anion through a branching and competing mechanism. The ns-TR3 spectra combined with relevant DFT calculations have been used to characterize the dynamics, structure and vibrational frequencies to help identify the important intermediates as well as to explore the reaction pathway leading to formation of the solvolysis product in the largely water solvent. A consecutive mechanism has been revealed for the heterolysis-solvolysis reaction in the water mixed solvent. The present work provides direct and irrevocable evidence for the dynamics and mechanistic description of the overall photophysics and deprotection related photochemistry for BDP. KGaA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2290-2305
Number of pages16
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Solvent effects
  • Time-resolved spectroscopy
  • Transient absorption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


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