Structural tracking of reacting molecules by femtosecond time-domain Raman spectroscopy
Understanding a chemical reaction ultimately requires knowledge of how each atom in the reactants moves during product formation. Such knowledge is seldom complete and is often limited to an oversimplified reaction coordinate that neglects global motions across the molecular framework. To overcome this limit, we recorded transient, impulsive Raman spectra during the ultrafast photoisomerization of cis-stilbene in solution. The results demonstrate a gradual frequency shift of a low-frequency spectator vibration, reflecting changes in the restoring force along this coordinate throughout the isomerization. A high-level quantum-chemical calculation reproduces this feature and associates it with a continuous structural change leading to the twisted configuration. This combined spectroscopic and computational approach should be amenable to detailed reaction visualization in other photoisomerizing systems as well.
Femtosecond impulsive Raman spectroscopy for ultrafast photoisomerization of cis-stilbene. Raman active vibrations in the reactive excited state are induced by the impulsive Raman process and monitored directly in the time domain by using 10-fs pulses, demonstrating a continuous change in the vibrational structure throughout the isomerization.