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Unravelling the details of vitamin D photosynthesis by non-adiabatic molecular dynamics simulations


Unravelling the details of vitamin D photosynthesis by non-adiabatic molecular dynamics simulations



Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics: Pccp 13(47): 20986-20998



ISSN/ISBN: 1463-9076

PMID: 22020179

DOI: 10.1039/c1cp21292c

We investigate the photodynamics of vitamin D derivatives by a fully analytical implementation of the linear response time-dependent density functional theory surface hopping method (LR-TDDFT-SH). Our study elucidates the dynamics of the processes involved in vitamin D formation at the molecular level and with femtosecond resolution. We explain the major experimental findings and provide new insights that cannot directly be obtained from experiments: firstly, we investigate the dynamics of the photoinduced ring-opening of provitamin D (Pro) and cyclohexadiene (CHD) and the subsequent rotational isomerization. In agreement with recent experiments and CC2 calculations, only the bright S(1) state is involved in the ring-opening reaction. Our calculations confirm the experimentally reported 5 : 1 ratio between the excited state lifetimes of Pro and CHD. The longer lifetimes of Pro are attributed to steric constraints of the steroid skeleton and to temperature effects, both emerging directly from our simulations. For CHD and Pro, we present an explanation of the biexponential decay recently reported by Sension and coworkers [Tang et al., J. Phys. Chem., 2011, 134, 104503]: our calculations suggest that the fast and slow components arise from a reactive and an unreactive reaction pathway, respectively. Secondly, we assess the wavelength dependent photochemistry of previtamin D (Pre). Using replica exchange molecular dynamics we sample the Pre conformers present at thermal equilibrium. Based on this ensemble we explain the conformation dependent absorption and the essential features of Pre photochemistry. Consistent with the experiments, we find ring-closure to occur mostly after excitation of the cZc conformers and at lower energies, whereas Z/E isomerization of the central double bond preferably occurs after excitation at higher energies. For the isomerization we provide the first theoretical evidence of the proposed hula-twist mechanism. Our results show that LR-TDDFT-SH is a highly valuable tool for studying the photochemistry of moderately large systems, even though challenges remain in the vicinity of conical intersections.

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