Formation of cold ion-neutral clusters using superfluid helium nanodroplets

Falconer, Travis M.; Lewis, William K.; Bemish, Raymond J.; Miller, Roger E.; Glish, Gary L.
May 2010
Review of Scientific Instruments;May2010, Vol. 81 Issue 5, p054101
Academic Journal
A strategy for forming and detecting cold ion-neutral clusters using superfluid helium nanodroplets is described. Sodium cations generated via thermionic emission are directed toward a beam of helium droplets that can also pick up neutral molecules and form a cluster with the captured Na+. The composition of the clusters is determined by mass spectrometric analysis following a desolvation step. It is shown that the polar molecules H2O and HCN are picked up and form ion-neutral clusters with sizes and relative abundances that are in good agreement with those predicted by the statistics used to describe neutral cluster formation in helium droplets. [Na(H2O)n]+ clusters containing six to 43 water molecules were observed, a size range of sodiated water clusters difficult to access in the gas phase. Clusters containing N2 were in lower abundance than expected, suggesting that the desolvation process heats the clusters sufficiently to dissociate those containing nonpolar molecules.


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