Infrared Absorption Spectrum of the Simplest Criegee Intermediate CH2OO

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Science  12 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6129, pp. 174-176
DOI: 10.1126/science.1234369

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More Criegee Sightings

The reaction of ozone with unsaturated hydrocarbons produces short-lived molecules termed Criegee intermediates. The simplest such molecule, H2CO2, was recently detected and monitored in the laboratory. Su et al. (p. 174; see the Perspective by Vereecken) have obtained its vibrational spectrum, which could ultimately enable direct measurements of its reactivity in the atmosphere. Taatjes et al. (p. 177; see the Perspective by Vereecken) report on the laboratory preparation and reactivity of the next heavier Criegee intermediate, which bears a methyl group in place of one of the hydrogen atoms.


The Criegee intermediates are carbonyl oxides postulated to play key roles in the reactions of ozone with unsaturated hydrocarbons; these reactions constitute an important mechanism for the removal of unsaturated hydrocarbons and for the production of OH in the atmosphere. Here, we report the transient infrared (IR) absorption spectrum of the simplest Criegee intermediate CH2OO, produced from CH2I + O2 in a flow reactor, using a step-scan Fourier-transform spectrometer. The five observed bands provide definitive identification of this intermediate. The observed vibrational frequencies are more consistent with a zwitterion rather than a diradical structure of CH2OO. The direct IR detection of CH2OO should prove useful for kinetic and mechanistic investigations of the Criegee mechanism.

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