Don’t help them to bury the light. The interplay between intersystem crossing and hydrogen transfer in photoexcited curcumin revealed by state-hopping dynamics.

06 August 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Curcumin is a natural compound extracted from turmeric (curcuma longa), which has shown remarkable antiinflammatory, antibacterial, and possibly anticancert properties. The intense absorption in the visible domain, and the possibility of intersystem crossing make curcumin attractive also for photodynamic therapy purposes. In the present contribution we unravel, thanks to non-adiabatic state hopping dynamics, the competition between intersystem crossing and hydrogen transfer within enol, the most stable tautomer of curcumin. Most notably, we show that while hydrogen-transfer is ultrafast and happens in the sub-ps regime, intersystem crossing is still present, as shown by the non-negligible population of the triplet state manifold after 2 ps. Hence, while the hydrogen transfer channel can act as an unfavorable deactivating channel, curcumin, also in the red-shifted absorption enol form, can still be regarded as potentially favorable for photodynamic therapy applications.


non adiabatic dynamics
hydrogen transfer
intersystem crossing


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