Isotope Enrichment in Neon Clusters Grown in Helium Nanodroplets


Neon cluster ions Nes+ grown in pre-ionized, mass-to-charge selected helium nanodroplets (HNDs) reveal a strong enrichment of the heavy isotope 22Ne that depends on cluster size s and the experimental conditions. For small sizes, the enrichment is much larger than previously reported for bare neon clusters grown in nozzle expansions and subsequently ionized. The enrichment is traced to the massive evaporation of neon atoms in a collision cell that is used to strip helium from the HNDs. We derive a relation between the enrichment of 22Ne in the cluster ion and its corresponding depletion factor F in the vapor phase. The value thus found for F is in excellent agreement with a theoretical expression that relates isotopic fractionation in two-phase equilibria of atomic gases to the Debye temperature. Furthermore, the difference in zero-point energies between the two isotopes computed from F agrees reasonably well with theoretical studies of neon cluster ions that include nuclear quantum effects in the harmonic approximation. Another fitting parameter provides an estimate for the size si of the precursor of the observed Nes+. The value is in satisfactory agreement with the size estimated by modeling the growth of Nes+ and with lower and upper limits deduced from other experimental data. On the other hand, neon clusters grown in neutral HNDs that are subsequently ionized by electron bombardment exhibit no statistically significant isotope enrichment at all. The finding suggests that the extent of ionization-induced dissociation of clusters embedded in HNDs is considerably smaller than that for bare clusters.



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Journal of Chemical Physics



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