We have investigated the S0S1 UV vibronic spectrum and time-resolved S1 state dynamics of jet-cooled amino-keto 1-methylcytosine (1MCyt) using two-color resonant two-photon ionization, UV/UV holeburning and depletion spectroscopies, as well as nanosecond and picosecond time-resolved pump/delayed ionization measurements. The experimental study is complemented with spin-component-scaled second-order coupled-cluster and multistate complete active space second order perturbation ab initio calculations. Above the weak electronic origin of 1MCyt at 31 852 cm−1 about 20 intense vibronic bands are observed. These are interpreted as methyl group torsional transitions coupled to out-of-plane ring vibrations, in agreement with the methyl group rotation and out-of-plane distortions upon 1ππ excitation predicted by the calculations. The methyl torsion and ν 1 (butterfly) vibrations are strongly coupled, in the S1 state. The S0S1 vibronic spectrum breaks off at a vibrational excess energy Eexc ∼ 500 cm−1, indicating that a barrier in front of the ethylene-type S1S0 conical intersection is exceeded, which is calculated to lie at Eexc = 366 cm−1. The S1S0 internal conversion rate constant increases from kIC = 2 ⋅ 109 s−1 near the S1(v = 0) level to 1 ⋅ 1011 s−1 at Eexc = 516 cm−1. The 1ππ state of 1MCyt also relaxes into the lower-lying triplet T1 (3ππ) state by intersystem crossing (ISC); the calculated spin-orbit coupling (SOC) value is 2.4 cm−1. The ISC rate constant is 10–100 times lower than kIC; it increases from kISC = 2 ⋅ 108 s−1 near S1(v = 0) to kISC = 2 ⋅ 109 s−1 at Eexc = 516 cm−1. The T1 state energy is determined from the onset of the time-delayed photoionization efficiency curve as 25 600 ± 500 cm−1. The T2 (3) state lies >1500 cm−1 above S1(v = 0), so S1T2 ISC cannot occur, despite the large SOC parameter of 10.6 cm−1. An upper limit to the adiabatic ionization energy of 1MCyt is determined as 8.41 ± 0.02 eV. Compared to cytosine, methyl substitution at N1 lowers the adiabatic ionization energy by ≥0.32 eV and leads to a much higher density of vibronic bands in the S0S1 spectrum. The effect of methylation on the radiationless decay to S0 and ISC to T1 is small, as shown by the similar break-off of the spectrum and the similar computed mechanisms.

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