Aromatic compounds with electron-donating or -accepting substituents exhibit interesting resonance effects on a variety of chemical reactivities and optical properties. To understand such effects and the possible relationship between vibrational energy dissipation pathways and resonance structures of aromatic compounds, we studied ortho-, meta-, and para-substituted cyanophenols and their anionic forms in methanol by using time- and frequency-resolved pump-probe and two-dimensional IR spectroscopy, where the nitrile group acts as an IR probe. From the measured transient spectra and singular-value decomposition analyses, we found that there is a combination band whose frequency is very close to that of the nitrile stretch mode. Due to the difference in the lifetimes of these two mode excited states, the transient pump-probe spectra commonly show notable blue-shifting behaviors in time. Comparing the vibrational lifetimes of neutral, cyanophenols and cyanophenoxide anions in methanol and carrying out quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical molecular dynamics simulations to study hydrogen-bonding dynamics, we found that the vibrational energy of the nitrile stretch mode initially relaxes to intramolecular degrees of freedom instead of solvent modes. Also, the vibrational anharmonic frequency shifts, intrinsic lifetimes, and bandwidths of the nitrile stretch mode and the combination mode in these molecular systems are fully characterized, and their relationships with resonance structures are discussed. It is believed that the present work sheds light on the intrinsic vibrational relaxation process of the nitrile stretch mode in cyanophenols, even in the case when their IR spectra are congested by the spectrally overlapping combination bands, and the resonance effects of aromatic compounds on vibrational dynamics and relaxation processes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry