<p>The mechanism of the light-induced spin crossover of the [Fe(bpy)(3)](2+) complex (bpy=2,2-bipyridine) has been studied by combining accurate electronic-structure calculations and time-dependent approaches to calculate intersystem-crossing rates. We investigate how the initially excited metal-to-ligand charge transfer (MLCT) singlet state deactivates to the final metastable high-spin state. Although ultrafast X-ray free-electron spectroscopy has established that the total timescale of this process is on the order of a few tenths of a picosecond, the details of the mechanisms still remain unclear. We determine all the intermediate electronic states along the pathway from low spin to high spin and give estimates for the deactivation times of the different stages. The calculations result in a total deactivation time on the same order of magnitude as the experimentally determined rate and indicate that the complex can reach the final high-spin state by means of different deactivation channels. The optically populated excited singlet state rapidly decays to a triplet state with an Fe d(6)(t(2g)(5)e(g)(1)) configuration either directly or by means of a triplet MLCT state. This triplet ligand-field state could in principle decay directly to the final quintet state, but a much faster channel is provided by internal conversion to a lower-lying triplet state and subsequent intersystem crossing to the high-spin state. The deactivation rate to the low-spin ground state is much smaller, which is in line with the large quantum yield reported for the process.</p>
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