The present work is directed toward understanding the mechanisms of excited state deactivation in three neutral model peptides containing the phenylalanine residue. The excited state dynamics of the
folded form of N
-acetylphenylalaninylamide (NAPA B) and its amide-N
-methylated derivative (NAPMA B) is reviewed and compared to the dynamics of the monohydrated structure of NAPA (NAPAH). The goal is to unravel how the environment, and in particular solvation, impacts the photodynamics of peptides. The systems are investigated using reaction path calculations and surface hopping nonadiabatic dynamics based on the coupled cluster doubles (CC2) method and time-dependent density functional theory. The work emphasizes the role that excitation transfer from the phenyl
state plays in the deactivation of the three systems and shows how the ease of out-of-plane distortions of the amide group determines the rate of population transfer between the two electronic states. The subsequent dynamics on the
state is barrierless along several pathways and leads to fast deactivation to the ground electronic state.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited