Sub-nanometer neutral chromium oxide clusters were produced in the gas phase through laser ablation and their low-lying excited state lifetimes were measured using femtosecond pump-probe spectroscopy. Time-dependent density functional theory calculations relate the trends in experimental lifetimes to the cluster's electronic structure. The photoexcited (CrO2)n (n < 5) cluster transients with the absence of up to four O atoms (CrnO2n−x, x < 5) exhibit a ∼30 fs and sub-ps lifetime, attributed to instantaneous metallic e-e scattering and vibrationally mediated charge carrier relaxation, respectively. A long-lived (>2 ps) response is found in both small and clusters with low O content, indicating that terminal Cr O bonds facilitate efficient excited state relaxation. The ∼30 fs transient signal fraction grows nearly linearly with oxidation, matching the amount of O-2p to Cr-3d charge transfer character of the photoexcitation and suggesting a gradual transition between semiconducting and metallic behavior in chromium oxide clusters at the molecular level. The results presented herein suggest that the photocatalytic properties of chromium oxides can be tunable based on size and oxidation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Materials Science