February 28th, Publication in J. Chem. Phys. marked as Editor's Pick!
The absorption of a positively charge-tagged azobenzene molecule is studied in the gas-phase by measuring photoinduced fragmentation of ions as a function of time. This technique provides information on prompt as well as delayed fragmentation, and a single dissociation channel after one-photon absorption is identified. The spectra in solution, as well as in the gas-phase, show a weak S0 → S1, a strong S0 → S2, and a broad absorption band in the UV regime. The bands are assigned through time-dependent density functional theory calculations. The ratio of the various absorption bands depends on the trans to cis isomerization fraction and may be tuned by light irradiation. Gas-phase absorption spectra are presented and discussed in terms of trans and cis isomers.