The Journal of Chemical Physics
Noncovalent interactions such as hydrogen bonding, π-π stacking, CH/π interactions, and halogen bonding play crucial roles in a broad spectrum of chemical and biochemical processes, and can exist in cooperation or competition. Here we report studies of the homoclusters of chlorobenzene, a prototypical system where π-π stacking, CH/π interactions, and halogen bonding interactions may all be present. The electronic spectra of chlorobenzene monomer and clusters (Clbz)n with n = 1-4 were obtained using resonant 2-photon ionization in the origin region of the S0–S1 (ππ*) state of the monomer. The cluster spectra show in all cases a broad spectrum whose center is redshifted from the monomer absorption. Electronic structure calculations aid in showing that the spectral broadening arises in large part from inhomogeneous sources, including the presence of multiple isomers and Franck-Condon (FC) activity associated with geometrical changes induced by electronic excitation. Calculations at the M06-2x/aug-cc-pVDZ level find in total five minimum energy structures for the dimer, four π-stacked structures, and one T-shaped, and six representative minimum energy structures were found for the trimer. The calculated time-dependent density functional theory spectra using range-separated and meta-GGA hybrid functionals show that these isomers absorb over a range that is roughly consistent with the breadth of the experimental spectra, and the calculated absorptions are redshifted with respect to the monomer transition, in agreement with experiment. Due to the significant geometry change in the electronic transition, where for the dimer a transition from a parallel displaced to sandwich structure occurs with a reduced separation of the two monomers, significant FC activity is predicted in low frequency intermolecular modes.