Probing trinitrotoluene (TNT) by low-energy electrons: Strong fragmentation following attachment of electrons near 0 eV

Sulzer, P.; Rondino, F.; Ptasinska, S.; Illenberger, E.; Mark, T. D. and Scheier, P. (2008). Probing trinitrotoluene (TNT) by low-energy electrons: Strong fragmentation following attachment of electrons near 0 eV. International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 272(2-3) pp. 149–153.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijms.2008.02.007

Abstract

Electron attachmentto gas phase trinitrotoluene (TNT) is studiedbymeansof a crossedelectron-molecular
beam experiment at high-energy resolution. TNT shows unique features in the way that electrons right
at threshold (near 0 eV) generate both the non-decomposed anion and a variety of anions arising from
dissociative electron attachment (DEA). While the parent anion is formed within a very narrowresonance
near 0 eV, the DEA reactions extend to higher energies and are operative via several resonant features in
the energy range 0–10 eV. They involve remarkably complex reaction sequences associated with multiple
bond cleavages and formation of new bonds. By far the dominant DEA reaction generates an ion formed
by the loss of a neutral OH radical from the precursor ion. Further strong ion signals arise from the loss
of up to three neutral NO units. The remarkable instability of TNT following attachment of electrons with
virtually no energy underlines the explosive nature of this compound.

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