Photochemistry of methyl ethyl ketone: Quantum yields and S 1/S0-diradical mechanism of photodissociation

Rebeka Nádasdi, Gábor L. Zügner, Mária Farkas, Sándor Dõbé, Satoshi Maeda, Keiji Morokuma

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Pulsed laser photolysis (PLP) at λ=248 and 308 nm coupled with gas-chromatographic analysis is applied to determine the photodissociation quantum yield (QY) of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK). Temperature dependent UV absorption cross-sections [σMEK(λ,T)] are also determined. At 308 nm, the QY decreases with decreasing temperature (T=323-233 K) and with increasing pressure (P=67-998 mbar synthetic air). Stern-Volmer (SV) analysis of the T and P dependent QYs provides the experimental estimate of ES1=398±9 kJ mol-1 (=300±6 nm) for the barrier of the first excited singlet state (S1). The QY at 248 nm is close to unity and independent of pressure (T=298 K). Theoretical reaction pathways are examined systematically on the basis of CASPT2/6-31+G* calculations. Among three possible pathways, a S1/S 0-diradical mechanism, which involves H atom transfer on the S 1 surface, followed by a nonadiabatic transition at a diradical isomer of MEK, explains the experimental data very well. Therefore, this unusual mechanism, which is not seen in any smaller carbonyl compounds, is proposed as an important pathway for the MEK dissociation. Our study supports the view that both the absorption cross-sections and the QYs of carbonyls have significant temperature dependences that should be taken into account for accurate modelling of atmospheric chemistry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3883-3895
Number of pages13
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Dec 17 2010



  • adiabatic and nonadiabatic pathways
  • atmospheric chemistry
  • computational chemistry
  • photodissociation
  • quantum yield

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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