Ferricyanide photo-aquation pathway revealed by combined femtosecond Kβ main line and valence-to-core x-ray emission spectroscopy

Marco Reinhard, Alessandro Gallo, Meiyuan Guo, Angel T. Garcia-Esparza, Elisa Biasin, Muhammad Qureshi, Alexander Britz, Kathryn Ledbetter, Kristjan Kunnus, Clemens Weninger, Tim van Driel, Joseph Robinson, James M. Glownia, Kelly J.Gaffney, Thomas Kroll, Tsu-Chien Weng, Roberto Alonso-Mori, Dimosthenis Sokaras
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Nature Communications

Reliably identifying short-lived chemical reaction intermediates is crucial to elucidate reaction mechanisms but becomes particularly challenging when multiple transient species occur simultaneously. Here, we report a femtosecond x-ray emission spectroscopy and scattering study of the aqueous ferricyanide photochemistry, utilizing the combined Fe Kβ main and valence-tocore emission lines. Following UV-excitation, we observe a ligand-to-metal charge transfer excited state that decays within 0.5 ps. On this timescale, we also detect a hitherto unobserved short-lived species that we assign to a ferric penta-coordinate intermediate of the photo-aquation reaction. We provide evidence that bond photolysis occurs from reactive metal-centered excited states that are populated through relaxation of the charge transfer excited state. Beyond illuminating the elusive ferricyanide photochemistry, these results show how current limitations of Kβ main line analysis in assigning ultrafast reaction intermediates can be circumvented by simultaneously using the valence-to-core spectral range.

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