Dynamics of chlorine atom reactions with hydrocarbons: insights from imaging the radical product in crossed beams

J Phys Chem A. 2014 Oct 9;118(40):9281-95. doi: 10.1021/jp504804n. Epub 2014 Aug 13.


We present a comprehensive overview of our ongoing studies applying dc slice imaging in crossed molecular beams to probe the dynamics of chlorine atom reactions with polyatomic hydrocarbons. Our approach consists in measuring the full velocity-flux contour maps of the radical products using vacuum ultraviolet "soft" photoionization at 157 nm. Our overall goal is to extend the range of chemical dynamics investigations from simple triatomic or tetraatomic molecules to systematic investigations of a sequence of isomers or a homologous series of reactants of intermediate size. These experimental investigations are augmented by high-level ab initio calculations which, taken together, reveal trends in product energy and angular momentum partitioning and offer deep insight into the reaction mechanisms as a function of structure, bonding patterns, and kinematics. We explore these issues in alkanes, for which only direct reactive encounters are found, and in unsaturated hydrocarbons, for which an addition-elimination mechanism competes with direct abstraction. The results for alkene addition-elimination in particular suggest a new view of these reactions: The only pathway to HCl elimination is accessed by means of roaming excursions of the Cl atom from the strongly bound adduct.