Conformational Switching of HOCO Radical: Selective Vibrational Excitation and Hydrogen-Atom Tunneling

Sergey V. Ryazantsev, Vladimir I. Feldman, Leonid Khriachtchev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Conformers of carboxyl radical (HOCO) have been studied by IR spectroscopy in argon and nitrogen matrices. In an argon matrix, only the lower-energy conformer trans-HOCO is observed, whereas both cis and trans conformers are found for deuterated carboxyl radical DOCO. In a nitrogen matrix, both conformers of HOCO and DOCO isotopologues can be prepared, indicating strong stabilization of the higher-energy cis conformer by a nitrogen matrix. Selective vibrational excitation promotes the trans-to-cis and cis-to-trans conversions of DOCO in an argon matrix and HOCO and DOCO in a nitrogen matrix, which is the first conformational photoswitching of an open-shell species. In a nitrogen matrix, the cis-to-trans and trans-to-cis conversions of HOCO is also found upon broadband IR light of the spectrometer, and the ratio of the quantum yields of these processes is about 3.3. The photoswitching peculiarities are in agreement with the available theoretical energy barriers. The higher-energy cis conformer decays to the lower-energy trans conformer via hydrogen-atom tunneling through the torsional barrier, which is also a unique observation for an open-shell species. The tunneling mechanism of the cis-to-trans switching is supported by the low-temperature limit of the reaction rate and by the H/D kinetic isotope effect. Our results suggest a large difference in the H/D kinetic isotope effects in nitrogen and argon matrices (∼5 and >100, respectively). The stabilizing effect on cis-DOCO by a nitrogen matrix (by 2 orders of magnitude versus an argon matrix) is much smaller than that on cis-HOCO (estimated to be >104).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9551-9557
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number28
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


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