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Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2011 Apr 21;13(15):7154-61. doi: 10.1039/c0cp02710c. Epub 2011 Mar 11.

Molecular elimination of methyl formate in photolysis at 234 nm: roaming vs. transition state-type mechanism.

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Department of Chemistry, National Taiwan University, Institute of Atomic and Molecular Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei 106, Taiwan.


Ion imaging coupled with (2 + 1) resonance-enhanced multiphoton ionization (REMPI) technique is employed to probe CO(v″ = 0) fragments at different rotational levels following photodissociation of methyl formate (HCOOCH(3)) at 234 nm. When the rotational level, J″(CO), is larger than 24, only a broad translational energy distribution extending beyond 70 kcal mol(-1) with an average energy of about 23 kcal mol(-1) appears. The dissociation process is initiated on the energetic ground state HCOOCH(3) that surpasses a tight transition state along the reaction coordinate prior to breaking into CO + CH(3)OH. This molecular dissociation pathway accounts for the CO fragment with larger rotational energy and large translational energy. As J″(CO) decreases, a bimodal distribution arises with one broad component and the other sharp component carrying the average energy of only 1-2 kcal mol(-1). The branching ratio of the sharp component increases with a decrease of J″(CO); (7.3 ± 0.6)% is reached as the image is probed at J″(CO) = 10. The production of a sharp component is ascribed to a roaming mechanism that has the following features: a small total translational energy, a low rotational energy partitioning in CO, but a large internal energy in the CH(3)OH co-product. The internal energy deposition in the fragments shows distinct difference from those via the conventional transition state.

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