Pseudorotation-driven dynamical structure of the tropyl radical

J Chem Phys. 2006 Oct 28;125(16):164332. doi: 10.1063/1.2358355.


Despite intensive studies of the neutral tropyl radical, none of its structure, energetics, and vibrational modes are still clear. This system has puzzled scientists for over a decade since one vibrational mode frequency sharply varies from imaginary number 3000i cm-1 to the real number 6000 cm-1, depending on the calculation methods employed. We find that the origin of this peculiar mode is due to the pseudorotation (omegairot) involved in the interconversion of two nearly isoenergetic Jahn-Teller configurations (elongated structure 2B1 and compressed structure 2A2 with C2v symmetry). Here, we first report that this interconversion is not via D7h or C2v symmetry configuration but via Cs symmetry (i.e., by changing the C2v axis). This interconversion barrier is found negligibly small. Thus, the two conformers are considered to be not two different structures but a dynamically identical structure with partial quantum statistical distributions on the potential energy surface. Owing to the nearly barrierless pseudorotation, the overall structure in a short time scale (less than femtosecond) would be Cs-like between 2A2 and 2B1 configurations with small fluctuation of bond distances. However, the dynamical transitions between the 2B1 and 2A2 configurations via 14 different pseudorotation pathways would make the tropyl radical have the effective D7h structure in either a nonshort time scale (greater than femtosecond) or at nonlow temperatures, which explains the high temperature electron spin resonance experiments.