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Science. 2005 Aug 19;309(5738):1219-22. Epub 2005 Jun 30.

Understanding the infrared spectrum of bare CH5+.

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Leiden Observatory, 2300 RA Leiden, Netherlands.


Protonated methane, CH5+, continues to elude definitive structural assignment, as large-amplitude vibrations and hydrogen scrambling challenge both theory and experiment. Here, the infrared spectrum of bare CH5+ is presented, as detected by reaction with carbon dioxide gas after resonant excitation by the free electron laser at the FELIX facility in the Netherlands. Comparison of the experimental spectrum at approximately 110 kelvin to finite-temperature infrared spectra, calculated by ab initio molecular dynamics, supports fluxionality of bare CH5+ under experimental conditions and provides a dynamical mechanism for exchange of hydrogens between CH3 tripod positions and the three-center bonded H2 moiety, which eventually leads to full hydrogen scrambling. The possibility of artificially freezing out scrambling and internal rotation in the simulations allowed assignment of the infrared spectrum despite this pronounced fluxionality.

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