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Transient X‑ray Absorption Spectral Fingerprints of the S1 Dark State in Uracil

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posted on 14.11.2019 by Weijie Hua, Shaul Mukamel, Yi Luo
Low-lying dark nπ* states play an important role in many photophysical and photochemical processes of organic chromophores. Transient X-ray absorption spectroscopy (TXAS) provides a powerful technique for probing the dynamics of valence states by exciting the electrons into high-lying core excited states. We employ multiconfigurational self-consistent field calculations to investigate the TXAS of uracil along its nonradiative photodecay pathways. An open issue is whether dark nπ* state S1 (n is the lone pair localized on an oxygen atom) is accessible when bright ππ* state S2 is selectively excited. Vertical core excitations were calculated along the potential energy surfaces of the three lowest states, S0–S2, interpolated between two minima and two minimum-energy conical intersections. Computed TXAS data from the C, N, and O K edges show distinct spectral fingerprints of the dark state in all spectral regimes. At the O 1s edge, the nπ* state has a very strong absorption at 526–527 eV, while at the C (N) 1s edge, by contrast, there is almost zero (very weak) absorption at 279–282 eV (397–398 eV). All K-edge spectra can be used to sensitively detect the dark states. Our proposed O 1s feature has already been observed in a recent TXAS experiment with thymine. Natural transition orbital analysis is used to interpret all dominant features of the three lowest-valence states along the reaction coordinate and reveal some important valence fine-structure information from the core excitation.