Studies of unusual simple molecules by neutralization-reionization mass spectrometry

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Science  23 Feb 1990:
Vol. 247, Issue 4945, pp. 925-929
DOI: 10.1126/science.2305261


Reactive or unstable molecules are key intermediates in many important reactions, but can be difficult to prepare for experimental studies. Species with missing (:CH-OH) or extra (H3) substituents can often be formed conveniently in the gas phase by neutralizing a beam of a more stable ionic counterpart (CH = O+H, H3+). Reionization of the neutral after approximately 10(-6) seconds tests its stability, whereas its unimolecular chemistry can be probed by preparing it with different amounts of internal energy. The resulting neutral products are reionized and mass analyzed. Isomers are then characterized by ion dissociation and a third mass-analysis step. Many unusual molecules have been characterized with this technique, which can also be used to probe complex unimolecular chemistry, such as that of cyclobutadiene and ethylene oxide.

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