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The role of solvent structure in the absorption spectrum of solvated electrons: Mixed quantum/classical simulations in tetrahydrofuran


In polar fluids such as water and methanol, the peak of the solvated electron's absorption spectrum in the red has been assigned as a sum of transitions between an s-like ground state and three nearly degenerate p-like excited states bound in a quasispherical cavity. In contrast, in weakly polar solvents such as tetrahydrofuran (THF), the solvated electron has an absorption spectrum that peaks in the mid-infrared, but no definitive assignment has been offered about the origins of the spectrum or the underlying structure. In this paper, we present the results of adiabatic mixed quantum/classical molecular dynamic simulations of the solvated electron in THF, and provide a detailed explanation of the THF-solvated electron's absorption spectrum and electronic structure. Using a classical solvent model and a fully quantum mechanical excess electron, our simulations show that although the ground and first excited states are bound in a quasispherical cavity, a multitude of other, nearby solvent cavities support numerous, nearly degenerate, bound excited states that have little Franck-Condon overlap with the ground state. We show that these solvent cavities, which are partially polarized so that they act as electron trapping sites, are an inherent property of the way THF molecules pack in the liquid. The absorption spectrum is thus assigned to a sum of bound-to-bound transitions between a localized ground state and multiple disjoint excited states scattered throughout the fluid. Furthermore, we find that the usual spherical harmonic labels (e.g., s-like, p-like) are not good descriptors of the excited-state wave functions of the solvated electron in THF. Our observation of multiple disjoint excited states is consistent with femtosecond pump-probe experiments in the literature that suggest that photoexcitation of solvated electrons in THF causes them to relocalize into solvent cavities far from where they originated. (C) 2005 American Institute of Physics.

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