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I. Phosphorescence and the true lifetime of triplet states in fluid solutions. II. Why is condensed oxygen blue?


Tsai, Shirley Shieu-lang Cheng (1969) I. Phosphorescence and the true lifetime of triplet states in fluid solutions. II. Why is condensed oxygen blue? Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/5KQV-4R78.



Phosphorescence has been observed in a highly purified fluid solution of naphthalene in 3-methylpentane (3-MP). The phosphorescence lifetime of C10H8 in 3-MP at -45 °C was found to be 0.49 ± 0.07 sec, while that of C10D8 under identical conditions is 0.64 ± 0.07 sec. At this temperature 3-MP has the same viscosity (0.65 centipoise) as that of benzene at room temperature. It is believed that even these long lifetimes are dominated by impurity quenching mechanisms. Therefore it seems that the radiationless decay times of the lowest triplet states of simple aromatic hydrocarbons in liquid solutions are sensibly the same as those in the solid phase. A slight dependence of the phosphorescence lifetime on solvent viscosity was observed in the temperature region, -60° to -18°C. This has been attributed to the diffusion-controlled quenching of the triplet state by residual impurity, perhaps oxygen. Bimolecular depopulation of the triplet state was found to be of major importance over a large part of the triplet decay.

The lifetime of triplet C10H8 at room temperature was also measured in highly purified benzene by means of both phosphorescence and triplet-triplet absorption. The lifetime was estimated to be at least ten times shorter than that in 3-MP. This is believed to be due not only to residual impurities in the solvent but also to small amounts of impurities produced through unavoidable irradiation by the excitation source. In agreement with this idea, lifetime shortening caused by intense flashes of light is readily observed. This latter result suggests that experiments employing flash lamp techniques are not suitable for these kinds of studies.

The theory of radiationless transitions, based on Robinson's theory, is briefly outlined. A simple theoretical model which is derived from Fano's autoionization gives identical result.


The blue color of oxygen is mostly derived from double transitions. This paper presents a theoretical calculation of the intensity of the double transition (a 1Δg) (a 1Δg)←(X 3Σg-) (X 3Σg-), using a model based on a pair of oxygen molecules at a fixed separation of 3.81 Å. The intensity enhancement is assumed to be derived from the mixing (a 1Δg) (a 1Δg) ~~~ (X 3Σg-) (X 3Σu-) and (a 1Δg) (1Δu) ~~~ (X 3Σg-) (X 3Σg-). Matrix elements for these interactions are calculated using a π-electron approximation for the pair system. Good molecular wavefunctions are used for all but the perturbing (B 3Σu-) state, which is approximated in terms of ground state orbitals. The largest contribution to the matrix elements arises from large intramolecular terms multiplied by intermolecular overlap integrals. The strength of interaction depends not only on the intermolecular separation of the two oxygen molecules, but also as expected on the relative orientation. Matrix elements are calculated for different orientations, and the angular dependence is fit to an analytical expression. The theory therefore not only predicts an intensity dependence on density but also one on phase at constant density. Agreement between theory and available experimental results is satisfactory considering the nature of the approximation, and indicates the essential validity of the overall approach to this interesting intensity enhancement problem.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Chemistry
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Chemistry
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Robinson, G. Wilse
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:31 October 1968
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Army Research OfficeUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:02192016-140307419
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9567
Deposited On:24 Feb 2016 18:53
Last Modified:09 Nov 2022 19:20

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