Publication Details

Kirk, B. B., Trevitt, A. J., Poad, B. L. and Blanksby, S. J. (2013). Characterisation of the ionic products arising from electron photodetachment of simple dicarboxylate dianions. International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 351, 81-94.


Much of what we currently understand about the structure and energetics of multiply charged anions in the gas phase is derived from the measurement of photoelectron spectra of simple dicarboxylate dianions. Here we have employed a modified linear ion-trap mass spectrometer to undertake complementary investigations of the ionic products resulting from laser-initiated electron photodetachment of two model dianions. Electron photodetachment (ePD) of the [M-2H]2- dianions formed from glutaric and adipic acid were found to result in a significant loss of ion signal overall, which is consistent with photoelectron studies that report the emission of slow secondary electrons (Xing et al., 2010 [20]). The ePD mass spectra reveal no signals corresponding to the intact [M-2H]•- radical anions, but rather[M-2H-CO2]'- ions are identified as the only abundant ionic products indicating that spontaneous decarboxylation follows ejection of the first electron. Interestingly however, investigations of the structure and energetics of the [M-2H-CO2]•- photoproducts by ion-molecule reaction and electronic structure calculation indicate that (i) these ions are stable with respect to secondary electron detachment and (ii) most of the ion population retains a distonic radical anion structure where the radical remains localised at the position of the departed carboxylate moiety. These observations lead to the conclusion that the mechanism for loss of ion signal involves unimolecular rearrangement reactions of the nascent [M-2H]•- carbonyloxyl radical anions that compete favourably with direct decarboxylation. Several possible rearrangement pathways that facilitate electron detachment from the radical anion are identified and are computed to be energetically accessible. Such pathways provide an explanation for prior observations of slow secondary electron features in the photoelectron spectra of the same dicaboxylate dianions.

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