Energetics and dynamics of decaying cluster ions


The recent addition of (i) a third sector field to our two sector field mass spectrometer (resulting in a BE1E2 field configuration) and of (ii) a high performance electron gun enables us now to study in detail the time dependence of the kinetic energy release distribution (KERD) over a relatively wide range of cluster ion lifetimes. Using this newly constructed device we have studied here for the first time KERDs and deduced binding energies BEs (using finite heat bath theory) of large rare gas cluster ions (an upper size limit in earlier studies arose from the fact that different naturally occurring isotopes will contribute to a chosen metastable peak when the size exceeds a certain value) and in addition of fullerene ions smaller and larger than C-60(+) (here again contaminating coincidences did not allow such studies earlier). Moreover, high precision KERD measurements for the decay of rare gas dimer ions in conjunction with model calculations (using recently calculated potential energy curves for the rare gas dimer ions) also enable us to obtain information on the dynamics and the mechanisms of the underlying spontaneous decay reactions Rg(2)(+*) --> Rg(+) + Rg. In addition, we are also reporting here a novel method (unified breakdown graph method) to determine cluster ion binding energies using a recently constructed tandem mass spectrometer BESTOF allowing us to measure fragmentation patterns arising from the unmolecular decay of molecular cluster ions induced by surface collisions. The fragmentation and reaction patterns of protonated ethanol cluster ions investigated here clearly demonstrate in contrast to some of the earlier cluster ion studies that unimolecular dissociation kinetics determines the formation of product ions in the surface-induced decomposition.

Publication Date


Journal Title

European Physical Journal D



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type



© EDP Sciences, Societ`a Italiana di Fisica, Springer-Verlag 2003