Near-IR laser generation of a high-energy conformer of L-alanine and the mechanism of its decay in a low-temperature nitrogen matrix

Nunes, Cláudio M.; Lapinski, Leszek; Fausto, Rui; Reva, Igor
March 2013
Journal of Chemical Physics;Mar2013, Vol. 138 Issue 12, p125101
Academic Journal
Monomers of L-alanine (ALA) were isolated in cryogenic nitrogen matrices at 14 K. Two conformers were identified for the compound trapped from the gas-phase into the solid nitrogen environment. The potential energy surface (PES) of ALA was theoretically calculated at the MP2 and QCISD levels. Twelve minima were located on this PES. Seven low-energy conformers fall within the 0-10 kJ mol-1 range and should be appreciably populated in the equilibrium gas phase prior to deposition. Observation of only two forms in the matrices is explained in terms of calculated barriers to conformational rearrangements. All conformers with the O=C-O-H moiety in the cis orientation are separated by low barriers and collapse to the most stable form I during deposition of the matrix onto the low-temperature substrate. The second observed form II has the O=C-O-H group in the trans orientation. The remaining trans forms have very high relative energies (between 24 and 30 kJ mol-1) and are not populated. The high-energy trans form VI, that differs from I only by rotation of the OH group, was found to be separated from other conformers by barriers that are high enough to open a perspective for its stabilization in a matrix. The form VI was photoproduced in situ by narrow-band near-infrared irradiation of the samples at 6935-6910 cm-1, where the first overtone of the OH stretching vibration in form I appears. The photogenerated form VI decays in N2 matrices back to conformer I with a characteristic decay time of ∼15 min. The mechanism of the VI → I relaxation is rationalized in terms of the proton tunneling.


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