Direct observation of photodissociation products from phenylperoxyl radicals isolated in the gas phase
Gas phase peroxyl radicals are central to our chemical understanding of combustion and atmospheric processes and are typically characterized by strong absorption in the UV (λmax ≈ 240 nm). The analogous maximum absorption feature for arylperoxyl radicals is predicted to shift to the visible but has not previously been characterized nor have any photoproducts arising from this transition been identified. Here we describe the controlled synthesis and isolation in vacuo of an array of charge-substituted phenylperoxyl radicals at room temperature, including the 4-(N,N,N-trimethylammonium)methyl phenylperoxyl radical cation (4-Me3N[+]CH2–C6H4OO•), using linear ion-trap mass spectrometry. Photodissociation mass spectra obtained at wavelengths ranging from 310 to 500 nm reveal two major photoproduct channels corresponding to homolysis of aryl-OO and arylO-O bonds resulting in loss of O2 and O, respectively. Combining the photodissociation yields across this spectral window produces a broad (FWHM ≈ 60 nm) but clearly resolved feature centered at λmax = 403 nm (3.08 eV). The influence of the charge-tag identity and its proximity to the radical site are investigated and demonstrate no effect on the identity of the two dominant photoproduct channels. Electronic structure calculations have located the vertical B̃ ← X̃ transition of these substituted phenylperoxyl radicals within the experimental uncertainty and further predict the analogous transition for unsubstituted phenylperoxyl radical (C6H5OO•) to be 457 nm (2.71 eV), nearly 45 nm shorter than previous estimates and in good agreement with recent computational values.