The longstanding unknown oxyallyl diradical (1) singlet-triplet gap has now been addressed with a very nice photoelectron spectroscopy study by Lineberger with interpretation greatly aided by computations provided by Hrovat and Borden.1

The photoelectron detachment spectrum of oxyallyl radical anion shows 5 major peaks, one at 1.942 eV and a series of four peaks starting at 1.997 eV separated by 405 cm-1.

B3LYP/6-311++G(d,p) computations indicate that the energy for electron detachment from the radical anion to triplet oxyallyl diradical is 1.979 eV. (The structure of triplet 1 is shown in Figure 1.) Further, the computed vibrational frequency of the C-C-C bend is 408 cm-1. These computations suggest that the four peak sequence represents a vibrational progression in the C-C-C bend of the triplet oxyallyl diradical.



Figure 1. Structures of the singlet and triplet oxyallyl diradical 1.1

CASPT2 computations on singlet oxyallayl diradical indicate that it lies in a very shallow well, lower than the zero-point energy. (This structure is shown in Figure 1.) In fact, the singlet diradical can collapse without a barrier to cyclopropanone. Interestingly, the C-O stretching frequency of 1 is computed to be 1731 cm-1, and close inspection of the photoelectron spectrum does show a progression of this magnitude originating from peak A. Therefore, both the singlet and triplet states of 1 are identified and their gap is extraordinarily small – the singlet is only 0.055 eV lower in energy than the triplet.


(1) Ichino, T.; Villano, S. M.; Gianola, A. J.; Goebbert, D. J.; Velarde, L.; Sanov, A.; Blanksby, S. J.; Zhou, X.; Hrovat, D. A.; Borden, W. T.; Lineberger, W. C., "The Lowest Singlet and Triplet States of the Oxyallyl Diradical," Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2009, 48, 8509-8511, DOI: 10.1002/anie.200904417