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American Chemical Society

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Journal of Physical Chemistry A

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We report an experimental and computational study of the photodecomposition pathways of a prototypical gem-dihalide, 1,1-dibromoethane (1,1-EDB), in the condensed phase. Following photolysis of the matrix isolated parent compound in Ar at 5 K, photoproducts are observed corresponding to Br2 elimination (+ C2H4 or C2H2) and HBr elimination (+ vinyl bromide). The elimination products are observed in the matrix as complexes. In contrast to our recent studies of the photolysis of matrix isolated polyhalomethanes, no evidence for the iso-1,1-EDB species is found, although studies of the matrix isolated 1,1-dibromo-2,2,2-trifluoroethane analogue show that the isomer is the dominant photoproduct. These results are examined in the light of theoretical studies that have characterized in detail the 1,1-EDB potential energy surface (PES). For Br2 elimination, a pathway from the isomer on the singlet PES is found which involves a simultaneous Br2 loss with 1,2-hydrogen shift; this pathway lies lower in energy than a concerted three-center elimination from the parent 1,1-EDB. For HBr elimination, our previous theoretical studies [Kalume, A.; George, L.; Cunningham, N.; Reid, S. A. Chem. Phys. Lett. 2013, 556, 35–38] have demonstrated the existence of concerted (single-step) and sequential pathways that involve coupled proton and electron transfer, with the sequential pathway involving the isomer as an intermediate. Here, more extensive computational results argue against a simple radical abstraction pathway for this process, and we compare experimental and computational results to prior results from the photolysis of the structural isomer, 1,2-EDB. These steady-state experiments set the stage for ultrafast studies of the dynamics of this system, which will be important in unraveling the complex photodecomposition pathways operative in condensed phases.


Accepted version. Journal of Physical Chemistry A, Vol. 117, No. 46 (July 12th, 2013): 11915-11923. DOI. © 2013 American Chemical Society Publishers. Used with permission.

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