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American Institute of Physics

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Journal of Chemical Physics

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Recent studies of the weakly bound anisole⋯CH4 complex found a dual mode of binding, featuring both C/H⋯π and C/H⋯O noncovalent interactions. In this work, we examine the dissociation energies of related aniline⋯(CH4)n (n = 1, 2) van der Waals clusters, where both C/H⋯π and C/H⋯N interactions are possible. Using a combination of theory and experiments that include mass-selected two-color resonant two-photon ionization spectroscopy, two-color appearance potential (2CAP) measurements, and velocity-mapped ion imaging (VMI), we derive the dissociation energies of both complexes in the ground (S0), excited (S1), and cation radical (D0) states. As the amide group is non-planar in the ground state, the optimized ground state geometry of the aniline⋯CH4 1:1 complex shows two isomers, each with the methane positioned above the aniline ring. The observed redshift of the electronic origin from the aniline monomer is consistent with TDDFT calculations for the more stable isomer, where the methane sits on the same face as the amino hydrogens. The dissociation energies of the 1:1 complex, obtained from 2CAP measurements, are in good agreement with the calculated theoretical values from selected density functional theory methods. VMI data for the 1:1 complex gave a binding energy value overestimated by ∼179 cm−1 when compared to the 2CAP results, indicating that dissociative ionization selectively populates an excited vibrational level of the aniline cation radical. Given that the electron donating ability of aromatic substituents trends as –NH2 > –OCH3 > –CH3, it is noteworthy that the strength of methane binding also trends in this order, as found by experiment (dissociation energies in kJ/mol: 6.6 > 5.8 > 4.5) and predicted by theory (PBE0-D3/def2-QZVPPD, in kJ/mol: 6.9 > 6.0 > 5.0). For the 1:2 complex of aniline and methane, calculations predict that the more stable conformer is the one where the two methane molecules lie on opposite faces of the ring, consistent with the observed redshift of the electronic origin. Unlike the anisole–methane 1:2 complex, which shows an enhanced dissociation energy for the loss of one methane in comparison with the 1:1 complex, here, we find that the energy required to remove one methane from the ground state aniline–methane 1:2 complex is smaller than that of the 1:1 complex, consistent with theoretical expectations.


Published version. Journal of Chemical Physics, Vol. 153, No. 4 (2020, July): 044303. DOI. © 2020 American Institute of Physics. Used with permission.

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