Joshua Jortner Distinguished Lectures in Chemistry: EXPLORING UNCHARTED REGIONS OF ATMOSPHERIC REACTION PATHWAYS
Marsha I. Lester, Edmund J. Kahn Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Alkene ozonolysis is a primary oxidation pathway for alkenes emitted into the troposphere and also an important source of atmospheric hydroxyl radicals. Alkene ozonolysis takes place on a reaction path with multiple minima and barriers along the way to OH products. In particular, a key reaction intermediate, known as the Criegee intermediate, R1R2COO, had eluded detection until very recently. In this laboratory, the simplest Criegee intermediate, CH2OO, and methyl-substituted Criegee intermediates, CH3CHOO and (CH3)2COO, have now been generated by an alternative synthetic route, detected by VUV photoionization, and characterized on a strong p*¬p transition. Most recently, our studies have focused on vibrational activation of methyl-substituted Criegee intermediates in the vicinity of the barrier for 1,4 hydrogen transfer that leads to OH products. The experiments reveal infrared transitions in the CH stretch overtone region that initiate unimolecular decay as well as the rate of the appearance of OH products through direct time-domain measurements. Comparison with high level theory shows that tunneling through the barrier makes a significant contribution to the decay rate. The dissociation dynamics are also examined through the translational and internal energy distributions of the OH products, which reflect critical configurations along the reaction pathway from the barrier for hydrogen transfer to OH products. Finally, the results will be extended to thermally averaged unimolecular decay of stabilized Criegee intermediates under atmospheric conditions.