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Issue 10, 2018
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Unimolecular reaction energies for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon ions

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Imaging photoelectron photoion coincidence spectroscopy was employed to explore the unimolecular dissociation of the ionized polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) acenaphthylene, fluorene, cyclopenta[d,e,f]phenanthrene, pyrene, perylene, fluoranthene, dibenzo[a,e]pyrene, dibenzo[a,l]pyrene, coronene and corannulene. The primary reaction is always hydrogen atom loss, with the smaller species also exhibiting loss of C2H2 to varying extents. Combined with previous work on smaller PAH ions, trends in the reaction energies (E0) for loss of H from sp2-C and sp3-C centres, along with hydrocarbon molecule loss were found as a function of the number of carbon atoms in the ionized PAHs ranging in size from naphthalene to coronene. In the case of molecules which possessed at least one sp3-C centre, the activation energy for the loss of an H atom from this site was 2.34 eV, with the exception of cyclopenta[d,e,f]phenanthrene (CPP) ions, for which the E0 was 3.44 ± 0.86 eV due to steric constraints. The hydrogen loss from PAH cations and from their H-loss fragments exhibits two trends, depending on the number of unpaired electrons. For the loss of the first hydrogen atom, the energy is consistently ca. 4.40 eV, while the threshold to lose the second hydrogen atom is much lower at ca. 3.16 eV. The only exception was for the dibenzo[a,l]pyrene cation, which has a unique structure due to steric constraints, resulting in a low H loss reaction energy of 2.85 eV. If C2H2 is lost directly from the precursor cation, the energy required for this dissociation is 4.16 eV. No other fragmentation channels were observed over a large enough sample set for trends to be extrapolated, though data on CH3 and C4H2 loss obtained in previous studies is included for completeness. The dissociation reactions were also studied by collision induced dissociation after ionization by atmospheric pressure chemical ionization. When modeled with a simple temperature-based theory for the post-collision internal energy distribution, there was reasonable agreement between the two sets of data.

Graphical abstract: Unimolecular reaction energies for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon ions

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Publication details

The article was received on 31 Oct 2017, accepted on 09 Feb 2018 and first published on 09 Feb 2018

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7CP07369K
Citation: Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2018,20, 7195-7205
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    Unimolecular reaction energies for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon ions

    B. West, S. Rodriguez Castillo, A. Sit, S. Mohamad, B. Lowe, C. Joblin, A. Bodi and P. M. Mayer, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2018, 20, 7195
    DOI: 10.1039/C7CP07369K

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