The interaction between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) radical cations and X-rays predominantly leads to photofragmentation, a process that strongly depends on PAH size and geometry. In our experiments, five prototypical PAHs were exposed to monochromatic soft X-ray photons with energies in the C K-edge regime. As a function of soft X-ray photon energy, photoion yields were obtained by means of time-of-flight mass spectrometry. The resulting near-edge X-ray absorption mass spectra were interpreted using time-dependent density functional theory (TD-DFT) with a short-range corrected functional. We found that the carbon backbone of anthracene (CH), pyrene (CH) and coronene (CH) can survive soft X-ray absorption, even though mostly intermediate size fragments are formed. In contrast, for hexahydropyrene (CH) and triphenylene (CH) molecular survival is not observed and the fragmentation pattern is dominated by small fragments. For a given excitation energy, molecular survival evidently does not simply correlate with PAH size but strongly depends on other PAH properties.

Springer Science
Eur. Phys. J. D
Ion Interactions

Huo, Y., Espinoza Cangahuala, M., Zamudio-Bayer, V., Goulart, M., Kubin, M., Timm, M., … Schlathölter, T. (2023). A comparative laboratory study of soft X-ray-induced ionization and fragmentation of five small PAH cations. Eur. Phys. J. D, 77(10), 181: 1–11. doi:10.1140/epjd/s10053-023-00763-w