• Vaz Da Cruz, V.; Büchner, R.; Fondell, M.; Pietzsch, A.; Eckert, S.; Föhlisch, A.: Targeting Individual Tautomers in Equilibrium by Resonant Inelastic X-ray Scattering. Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 13 (2022), p. 2459-2466

Open Accesn Version

Tautomerism is one of the most important forms of isomerism, owing to the facile interconversion between species and the large differences in chemical properties introduced by the proton transfer connecting the tautomers. Spectroscopic techniques are often used for the characterization of tautomers. In this context, separating the overlapping spectral response of coexisting tautomers is a long-standing challenge in chemistry. Here, we demonstrate that by using resonant inelastic X-ray scattering tuned to the core excited states at the site of proton exchange between tautomers one is able to experimentally disentangle the manifold of valence excited states of each tautomer in a mixture. The technique is applied to the prototypical keto–enol equilibrium of 3-hydroxypyridine in aqueous solution. We detect transitions from the occupied orbitals into the LUMO for each tautomer in solution, which report on intrinsic and hydrogen-bond-induced orbital polarization within the π and σ manifolds at the proton-transfer site.