Modus Operandi of a Pedalo-Type Molecular Switch: Insight from Dynamics and Theoretical Spectroscopy
Molecular switches which can be triggered by light to interconvert between two or more well-defined conformation differing in their chemical or physical properties are fundamental for the development of materials with on-demand functionalities. Recently, a novel molecular switch based on a the azodicarboxamide core has been reported. It exhibits a volume-conserving conformational change upon excitation, making it a promising candidate for embedding in confined environments. In order to rationally implement and efficiently utilize the azodicarboxamide molecular switch, detailed insight into the coordinates governing the excited-state dynamics is needed. Here, we report a detailed comparative picture of the molecular motion at the atomic level in the presence and absence of explicit solvent. Our hybrid quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) excited state simulations reveal that, although the energy landscape is slightly modulated by the solvation, the light-induced motion is dominated by a bending-assisted pedalo -type motion independent of the solvation. To support the predicted mechanism, we simulate time-resolved IR spectroscopy from first principles, thereby resolving fingerprints of the light-induced switching process. Our calculated time-resolved data are in good agreement with previously reported measured spectra.