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We studied the single photon ionization of gas phase adenine and cytosine by means of vacuum ultraviolet synchrotron radiation coupled to a velocity map imaging electron∕ion coincidence spectrometer. Both in-vacuum temperature-controlled oven and aerosol thermodesorption were successfully applied to promote the intact neutral biological species into the gas phase. The photoion yields are consistent with previous measurements. In addition, we deduced the threshold photoelectron spectra and the slow photoelectron spectra for both species, where the close to zero kinetic energy photoelectrons and the corresponding photoions are measured in coincidence. The photoionization close and above the ionization energies are found to occur mainly via direct processes. Both vaporization techniques lead to similar electronic spectra for the two molecules, which consist of broadbands due to the complex electronic structure of the cationic species and to the possible contribution of several neutral tautomers for cytosine prior to ionization. Accurate ionization energies are measured for adenine and cytosine at, respectively, 8.267 ± 0.005 eV and 8.66 ± 0.01 eV, and we deduce precise thermochemical data for the adenine radical cation. Finally, we performed an evaluation and a comparison of the two vaporization techniques addressing the following criteria: measurement precision, thermal fragmentation, sensitivity, and sample consumption. The aerosol thermodesorption technique appears as a promising alternative to vaporize large thermolabile biological compounds, where extended thermal decomposition or low sensitivity could be encountered when using a simple oven vaporization technique.


D Touboul, F Gaie-Levrel, G A Garcia, L Nahon, L Poisson, M Schwell, M Hochlaf. VUV photoionization of gas phase adenine and cytosine: a comparison between oven and aerosol vaporization. The Journal of chemical physics. 2013 Mar 7;138(9):094203

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PMID: 23485287

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