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Structure–Kinetics Correlations in Isostructural Crystals of α‑(ortho-Tolyl)-acetophenones: Pinning Down Electronic Effects Using Laser-Flash Photolysis in the Solid State

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posted on 2016-02-05, 00:00 authored by Anoklase J.-L. Ayitou, Kristen Flynn, Steffen Jockusch, Saeed I. Khan, Miguel A. Garcia-Garibay
Aqueous suspensions of nanocrystals in the 200–500 nm size range of isostructural α-(ortho-tolyl)-acetophenone (1a) and α-(ortho-tolyl)-para-methylacetophenone (1b) displayed good absorption characteristics for flash photolysis experiments in a flow system, with transient spectra and decay kinetics with a quality that is similar to that recorded in solution. In contrast to solution measurements, reactions in the solid state were characterized by a rate limiting hydrogen transfer reaction from the triplet excited state and a very short-lived biradical intermediate, which does not accumulate. Notably, the rate for δ-hydrogen atom transfer of 1a (2.7 × 107 s–1) in the crystalline phase is 18-fold larger than that of 1b (1.5 × 106 s–1). With nearly identical molecular and crystal structures, this decrease in the rate of δ-hydrogen abstraction can be assigned unambiguously to an electronic effect by the para-methyl group in 1b, which increases the contribution of the 3π,π* configuration relative to the reactive 3n,π* configuration in the lowest triplet excited state. These results highlight the potential of relating single crystal X-ray structural data with absolute kinetics from laser flash photolysis.