Skip to main content
Chemistry LibreTexts

PC4. Photolysis

  • Page ID
    4339
  • We have seen that the absorption of photons (especially in the ultraviolet-visible spectrum) is connected to the excitation of electrons. After excitation, a number of different relaxation pathways lead back to the ground state. Sometimes, absorption of a photon leads to a vastly different outcome. Instead of just relaxing again, the molecules may undergo bond-breaking reactions, instead.

    An example of this phenomenon is observed in the complex ion [Co(NH3)]63+. Addition of UV light to this complex results in loss of ammonia. In the absence of UV light, however, the complex ion is quite stable.

    In many cases, loss of a ligand is followed by replacement by a new one. For example, if an aqueous solution of [Co(NH3)]63+ is photolysed, an ammonia ligand is easily replaced by water.

    Problem PC4.1.

    Draw a d orbital splitting diagram for [Co(NH3)]63+. Explain why this complex is normally inert toward substitution.

    Problem PC4.2.

    Use the d orbital splitting diagram for [Co(NH3)]63+ to explain why this complex is undergoes substitution upon irradiation with UV light.

    Photolysis is the term used to describe the use of light to initiate bon-breaking events. Photolysis frequently involves the use of high-intensity ultraviolet lamps. The high intensity light is needed in order to provide enough photons to get higher conversion of reactant into a desired product.