The photophysics and photochemistry of aromatic 1,3-dicarbonyl compounds used as UVA sunscreens
UV radiation can cause harmful effects to human skin, including premature skin ageing and skin cancer. Historically, sunscreens were developed to filter out UVB (290 nm-320 nm), but now the importance of UVA (320 nm-400 nm) sunscreens is realised. The most common UVA sunscreens are based on dibenzoylmethane (1,3-diphenyl propan-l,3-dione, DBM), of which the most common is Parsol 1789 (4'- methoxy 4'-tertiarybutyl DBM). The photochemistry of these materials has, however, been poorly understood. In this work the photophysics and photochemistry of DBM, Parsol 1789, Parsol DAM and ditertiarybutyl DBM have been studied, along with the respective 0-methylated and C-methylated compounds of DBM and Parsol 1789.DBMs exist primarily as an intra-molecularly bonded enol, which absorbs strongly at λ≈340 nm due to a π,π* transition. The absorption spectra of DBMs also exhibit a smaller peak at λ≈250 nm, due to an n,π* transition of the diketone content. At low temperature the main absorption band of DBMs shifts to longer wavelengths and vibrational structure can be observed. The enol form of DBMs fluorescence at low temperature, (v(_0)’→v’’(_0) at λ≈385 nm), and phosphorescence can be observed from both the diketone (λ(_em)≈495 nm,) and enol forms (λ(_em)≈425 nm). Thus the triplet energies of the diketones and enols of the DBMs studied have been measured. 0-methylated DBMs do not possess an intra-molecular H-bond, and the π,π* absorption band falls to lower wavelengths than for chelated DBMs. C-methylated DBMs exist as a diketone structure, and display photophysics typical of an aromatic ketone. It has been suggested that the main process on irradiation of DBM is the formation of a short-lived non-chelated enol, however no direct evidence as to the structure of this species is reported in the literature. Formation of the diketone form of DBM on prolonged irradiation in acetonitrile solution has also been reported, and in this work the quantum yield of this process has been measured; ɸ≈0.01 ± 0.004. In this work, direct (low temperature) IR spectroscopic evidence is presented to prove that the short-lived species produced on irradiation is indeed a non-chelated enol. The infra-red studies also suggest that the non-chelated enol form of DBM form complexes with polar solvents, as has been proposed in the literature. Quantum yields of non-chelated enol formation in cyclohexane at room temperature have been measured to be approximately ɸ=0.5 + 0.07. This work indicates that the rate of transient decay is enhanced by the interaction of the transient molecules with chelated enol molecules or other transient molecules. IR studies of low temperature transient formation confirm the interaction of transient molecules by the observation of inter-molecular hydrogen-bonding. By comparison with the E and Z isomers of 0-methylated DBM it is suggested that at low temperature DBM initially forms a Z-cis non-hydrogen bonded enol, which then converts to an E-trans non-hydrogen bonded enol with further irradiation. The kinetics and the temperature variation of the enol recovery support the theory that there is more than one species formed. The photochemistry of DBM in emulsions has also been studied in this work. It has been shown that the photochemistry occurring on irradiation is similar to that observed in solutions. This indicates that simple solutions are a good model for actual sunscreen formulations. Singlet oxygen is a highly reactive species capable of causing serious biological damage, however this work shows that DBM sunscreens generate singlet oxygen by photosensitisation, with quantum yields ɸ∆≈0.005-0.01. It has also been shown that the lifetime of the excited state of DBM involved in singlet oxygen production is very short, approximately τ <1 µs.