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In this chapter the development of time-resolved crystallography is traced from its beginnings more than 30 years ago. The importance of being able to “watch” chemical processes as they occur rather than just being limited to three-dimensional pictures of the reactant and final product is emphasised, and time-resolved crystallography provides the opportunity to bring the dimension of time into the crystallographic experiment. The technique has evolved in time with developments in technology: synchrotron radiation, cryoscopic techniques, tuneable lasers, increased computing power and vastly improved X-ray detectors. The shorter the lifetime of the species being studied, the more complex is the experiment. The chapter focusses on the results of solid-state reactions that are activated by light, since this process does not require the addition of a reagent to the crystalline material and the single-crystalline nature of the solid may be preserved. Because of this photoactivation, time-resolved crystallography is often described as “photocrystallography”. The initial photocrystallographic studies were carried out on molecular complexes that either underwent irreversible photoactivated processes where the conversion took hours or days. Structural snapshots were taken during the process. Materials that achieved a metastable state under photoactivation and the excited (metastable) state had a long enough lifetime for the data from the crystal to be collected and the structure solved. For systems with shorter lifetimes, the first time-resolved results were obtained for macromolecular structures, where pulsed lasers were used to pump up the short lifetime excited state species and their structures were probed by using synchronised X-ray pulses from a high-intensity source. Developments in molecular crystallography soon followed, initially with monochromatic X-ray radiation, and pump-probe techniques were used to establish the structures of photoactivated molecules with lifetimes in the micro- to millisecond range. For molecules with even shorter lifetimes in the sub-microsecond range, Laue diffraction methods (rather than using monochromatic radiation) were employed to speed up the data collections and reduce crystal damage. Future developments in time-resolved crystallography are likely to involve the use of XFELs to complete “single-shot” time-resolved diffraction studies that are already proving successful in the macromolecular crystallographic field.
|Title of host publication||Structure and Bonding|
|Subtitle of host publication||21st Century Challenges in Chemical Crystallography I|
|Editors||D. M. P. Mingos, P. R. Raithby|
|Place of Publication||Cham, Switzerland|
|Number of pages||33|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 4 Oct 2020|
|Name||Structure and Bonding|
- Excited state lifetimes
- Metastable states
- Synchrotron radiation
- Time-resolved crystallography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry
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- 1 Finished
Applying Long-Lived Metastable States in Switchable Functionality via Kinetic Control of Molecular Assembly
Raithby, P., Burrows, A., Carbery, D., Marken, F., Parker, S., Walsh, A. & Wilson, C.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
1/11/12 → 30/04/18
Project: Research council