Knockout driven reactions in complex molecules and their clusters

M Gatchell and H Zettergren, JOURNAL OF PHYSICS B-ATOMIC MOLECULAR AND OPTICAL PHYSICS, 49, 162001 (2016).

DOI: 10.1088/0953-4075/49/16/162001

Energetic ions lose some of their kinetic energy when interacting with electrons or nuclei in matter. Here, we discuss combined experimental and theoretical studies on such impulse driven reactions in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), fullerenes, and pure or mixed clusters of these molecules. These studies show that the nature of excitation is important for how complex molecular systems respond to ion/atom impact. Rutherford-like nuclear scattering processes may lead to prompt atom knockout and formation of highly reactive fragments, while heating of the molecular electron clouds in general lead to formation of more stable and less reactive fragments. In this topical review, we focus on recent studies of knockout driven reactions, and present new calculations of the angular dependent threshold (displacement) energies for such processes in PAHs. The so-formed fragments may efficiently form covalent bonds with neighboring molecules in clusters. These unique molecular growth processes may be important in astrophysical environments such as low velocity shock waves.

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