skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on December 1, 2022

Title: Time-resolved relaxation and fragmentation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons investigated in the ultrafast XUV-IR regime
Abstract Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) play an important role in interstellar chemistry and are subject to high energy photons that can induce excitation, ionization, and fragmentation. Previous studies have demonstrated electronic relaxation of parent PAH monocations over 10–100 femtoseconds as a result of beyond-Born-Oppenheimer coupling between the electronic and nuclear dynamics. Here, we investigate three PAH molecules: fluorene, phenanthrene, and pyrene, using ultrafast XUV and IR laser pulses. Simultaneous measurements of the ion yields, ion momenta, and electron momenta as a function of laser pulse delay allow a detailed insight into the various molecular processes. We report relaxation times for the electronically excited PAH * , PAH +* and PAH 2+* states, and show the time-dependent conversion between fragmentation pathways. Additionally, using recoil-frame covariance analysis between ion images, we demonstrate that the dissociation of the PAH 2+ ions favors reaction pathways involving two-body breakup and/or loss of neutral fragments totaling an even number of carbon atoms.
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; « less
Award ID(s):
1753324
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10335538
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Volume:
12
Issue:
1
ISSN:
2041-1723
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. We report on the use of extreme ultraviolet (XUV, 30.3 nm) radiation from the Free-electron LASer in Hamburg (FLASH) and visible (Vis, 405 nm) photons from an optical laser to investigate the relaxation and fragmentation dynamics of fluorene ions. The ultrashort laser pulses allow to resolve the molecular processes occurring on the femtosecond timescales. Fluorene is a prototypical small polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH). Through their infrared emission signature, PAHs have been shown to be ubiquitous in the universe, and they are assumed to play an important role in the chemistry of the interstellar medium. Our experiments track the ionization and dissociative ionizationmore »products of fluorene through time-of-flight mass spectrometry and velocity-map imaging. Multiple processes involved in the formation of each of the fragment ions are disentangled through analysis of the ion images. The relaxation lifetimes of the excited fluorene monocation and dication obtained through the fragment formation channels are reported to be in the range of a few tens of femtoseconds to a few picoseconds.« less
  2. Upon photoexcitation, molecules can undergo numerous complex processes, such as isomerization and roaming, leading to changes in the molecular and electronic structure. Here, we report on the time-resolved ultrafast nuclear dynamics, initiated by laser ionization, in the two structural isomers, 1- and 2-propanol, using a combination of pump–probe spectroscopy and coincident Coulomb explosion imaging. Our measurements, paired with quantum chemistry calculations, identify the mechanisms for the observed two- and three-body dissociation channels for both isomers. In particular, the fragmentation channel of 2-propanol associated with the loss of CH 3 shows possible evidence of methyl roaming. Moreover, the electronic structure ofmore »this roaming methyl fragment could be responsible for the enhanced ionization also observed for this channel. Finally, comparison with similar studies done on ethanol and acetonitrile helps establish a correlation between the length of the alkyl chain and the likelihood of hydrogen migration.« less
  3. Acetaldehyde cations (CH 3 CHO + ) were prepared using single-photon vacuum ultraviolet ionization of CH 3 CHO in a molecular beam and the fragmentation dynamics explored over the photolysis wavelength range 390–210 nm using velocity-map ion imaging and photofragment yield (PHOFY) spectroscopy. Four fragmentation channels are characterized: CH 3 CHO + → C 2 H 3 O + + H (I), CH 3 CHO + → HCO + + CH 3 (II), CH 3 CHO + → CH 3 + + HCO (III), CH 3 CHO + → CH 4 + + CO (IV). Channels (I), (II), and (IV)more »are observed across the full photolysis wavelength range while channel (III) is observed only at λ < 317 nm. Maximum fragment ion yields are obtained at ∼250 nm. Ion images were recorded over the range 316–228 nm, which corresponds to initial excitation to the B̃ 2 A′ and C̃ 2 A′ states of CH 3 CHO + . The speed and angular distributions are distinctly different for each detected ion and show evidence of both statistical and dynamical fragmentation pathways. At longer wavelengths, fragmentation via channel (I) leads to modest translational energies ( E T ), consistent with dissociation over a small barrier and production of highly internally excited CH 3 CO + . Additional components with E INT greater than the CH 3 CO + secondary dissociation threshold appear at shorter wavelengths and are assigned to fragmentation products of vinyl alcohol cation or oxirane cation formed by isomerization of energized CH 3 CHO + . The E T distribution observed for channel (III) products peaks at zero but is notably colder than that predicted by phase space theory, particularly at longer photolysis wavelengths. The colder-than-statistical E T distributions are attributed to contributions from secondary fragmentation of energized CH 3 CO + formed via channel (I), which are attenuated by CH 3 CHO + isomerization at shorter wavelengths. Fragmentation via channels (II) and (IV) results in qualitatively similar outcomes, with evidence of isotropic statistical components at low- E T and anisotropic components due to excited state dynamics at higher E T .« less
  4. The rates and outcomes of virtually all photophysical and photochemical processes are determined by conical intersections. These are regions of degeneracy between electronic states on the nuclear landscape of molecules where electrons and nuclei evolve on comparable timescales and thus become strongly coupled, enabling radiationless relaxation channels upon optical excitation. Due to their ultrafast nature and vast complexity, monitoring conical intersections experimentally is an open challenge. We present a simulation study on the ultrafast photorelaxation of uracil, based on a quantum description of the nuclei. We demonstrate an additional window into conical intersections obtained by recording the transient wavepacket coherencemore »during this passage with an X-ray free-electron laser pulse. Two major findings are reported. First, we find that the vibronic coherence at the conical intersection lives for several hundred femtoseconds and can be measured during this entire time. Second, the time-dependent energy-splitting landscape of the participating vibrational and electronic states is directly extracted from Wigner spectrograms of the signal. These offer a physical picture of the quantum conical intersection pathways through visualizing their transient vibronic coherence distributions. The path of a nuclear wavepacket in the vicinity of the conical intersection is directly mapped by the proposed experiment.

    « less
  5. Isomerization induced by laser ionization in acetonitrile (CH3CN) was investigated using pump−probe spectroscopy in combination with ion−ion coincident Coulomb explosion imaging. We deduced five primary channels indicating direct C−C breakup, single and double hydrogen migration, and H and H2 dissociation in the acetonitrile cation. Surprisingly, the hydrogen-migration channels dominate over direct fragmentation. This observation is supported by quantum chemistry calculations showing that isomerization through single and double hydrogen migration leads to very stable linear and ring isomers, with most of them more stable than the original linear structure following ionization of the parent molecule. This is unlike most molecules investigatedmore »previously using similar schemes.By varying the delay between the pump and probe pulses, we have also determined the time scales of the corresponding dynamical processes. Isomerization typically occurs in a few hundred femtoseconds, a time scale that is comparable to that found for H and H2 dissociation and direct molecular fragmentation.« less