Ultrafast Photodissociation Dynamics of Nitromethane

Tammie Nelson, Josiah Bjorgaard, Margo Greenfield, Cindy Bolme, Katie Brown, Shawn McGrane, R. Jason Scharff, Sergei Tretiak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Nitromethane (NM), a high explosive (HE) with low sensitivity, is known to undergo photolysis upon ultraviolet (UV) irradiation. The optical transparency, homogeneity, and extensive study of NM make it an ideal system for studying photodissociation mechanisms in conventional HE materials. The photochemical processes involved in the decomposition of NM could be applied to the future design of controllable photoactive HE materials. In this study, the photodecomposition of NM from the n?∗ state excited at 266 nm is being investigated on the femtosecond time scale. UV femtosecond transient absorption (TA) spectroscopy and excited state femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy (FSRS) are combined with nonadiabatic excited state molecular dynamics (NA-ESMD) simulations to provide a unified picture of NM photodecomposition. The FSRS spectrum of the photoproduct exhibits peaks in the NO2 region and slightly shifted C-N vibrational peaks pointing to methyl nitrite formation as the dominant photoproduct. A total photolysis quantum yield of 0.27 and an n?∗ state lifetime of ?20 fs were predicted from NA-ESMD simulations. Predicted time scales revealed that NO2 dissociation occurs in 81 ± 4 fs and methyl nitrite formation is much slower having a time scale of 452 ± 9 fs corresponding to the excited state absorption feature with a decay of 480 ± 17 fs observed in the TA spectrum. Although simulations predict C-N bond cleavage as the primary photochemical process, the relative time scales are consistent with isomerization occurring via NO2 dissociation and subsequent rebinding of the methyl radical and nitrogen dioxide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-526
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Volume120
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes

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