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A series of substituted benzoyl radicals has been generated by laser flash photolysis of alpha-hydroxy ketones, alpha-amino ketones, and acyl and bis(acyl)phosphine oxides, all of which are used commercially as photoinitiators in free radical polymerizations. The benzoyl radicals have been studied by fast time-resolved infrared spectroscopy. The absolute rate constants for their reaction with n-butylacrylate, thiophenol, bromotrichloromethane and oxygen were measured in acetonitrile solution. The rate constants of benzoyl radical addition to n-butylacrylate range from 1.3 x 10(5) to 5.5 x 10(5) M(-1) s(-1) and are about 2 orders of magnitude lower than for the n-butylacrylate addition to the counterradicals that are produced by alpha-cleavage of the investigated ketones. Density functional theoretical calculations have been performed in order to rationalize the observed reactivities of the initiating radicals. Calculations of the phosphorus-centered radicals generated by photolysis of an acyl and bis(acyl)phosphine oxide suggest that P atom Mulliken spin populations are an indicator of the relative reactivities of the phosphorus-centered radicals. The alpha-cleavage of (2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyl)phosphine oxide was studied by picosecond pump-probe and nanosecond step-scan time-resolved infrared spectroscopy. The results support a mechanism in which the alpha-cleavage occurs from the triplet excited state that has a lifetime less than or equal to the singlet excited state.

Original publication





Journal of the American Chemical Society

Publication Date





14952 - 14958


School of Chemistry, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, United Kingdom.