Kunnus, K.; Josefsson, I.; Rajkovic, I.; Schreck, S.; Quevedo, W.; Beye, M.; Weniger, C.; Gruebel, S.; Scholz, M.; Nordlund, D.; Zhang, W.; Hartsock, R. W.; Gaffney, K. J.; Schlotter, W. F.; Turner, J. J.; Kennedy, B.; Hennies, F.; de Groot, F. M. F.; Techert, S.; Odelius, M.; Wernet, Ph.; Foehlisch, A.: Identification of the dominant photochemical pathways and mechanistic insights to the ultrafast ligand exchange of Fe(CO)5 to Fe(CO)4EtOH. Structural Dynamics 3 (2016), p. 043204/1-15
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We utilized femtosecond time-resolved resonant inelastic X-ray scattering (RIXS) and ab initio theory to study the transient electronic structure and the photoinduced molecular dynamics of a model metal carbonyl photocatalyst Fe(CO)5 in ethanol solution. We propose mechanistic explanation for the parallel ultrafast intra-molecular spin crossover and ligation of the Fe(CO)4 which are observed following a charge transfer photoexcitation of Fe(CO)5 as reported in our previous study in Ref. 1. We find that branching of the reaction pathway likely happens in the 1A1 state of Fe(CO)4. A sub-picosecond time constant of the spin crossover from 1B2 to 3B2 is rationalized by the proposed 1B2  1A1  3B2 mechanism. Ultrafast ligation of the 1B2 Fe(CO)4 state is significantly faster than the spin-forbidden and diffusion limited ligation process occurring from the 3B2 Fe(CO)4 ground state that has been observed in previous studies. We propose that the ultrafast ligation occurs via 1B2  1A1  1A’ Fe(CO)4EtOH pathway and the time scale of the 1A1 Fe(CO)4 state ligation is governed by the solute-solvent collision frequency. Our study emphasizes the importance of understanding the interaction of molecular excited states with the surrounding environment to explain the relaxation pathways of photoexcited metal carbonyls in solution.