Spectroscopic identification of complex species containing water and ammonia and their importance to icy outer solar system bodies

Courtney Ennis

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

[Truncated abstract] This thesis examines the bonding interactions and chemical processes associated with irradiated water (H2O) and ammonia (NH3) molecules. The experiments conducted in the present study are designed to replicate the surface chemistry of outer Solar System bodies, particularly the icy surfaces of Saturn's inner moons. Infrared (IR) spectroscopy is used to identify the H2ONH3 complex isolated in an argon (Ar) matrix. An electric discharge is then applied to the H2O and NH3 species to produce the hydroxyl-ammonia (OHNH3) complex and the water-amidogen (H2ONH2) complex. Finally, the ammonia-oxygen (NH3O2) complex is formed in an Ar matrix, complementing previous studies performed by the Quickenden research group, which investigated the conversion of OH radicals into molecular O2 on icy planetary surfaces. ... An electric discharge is applied to the NH3 in Ar mixture, producing the NH2 radical subunit of the complex. Two absorption bands are assigned to the H2O subunit vibrational frequencies of the complex; at 1616.1 cm-1 for the ν2 HOH bending fundamental and at 3532.1 cm-1 for the ν1 OH bonded stretching fundamental. Two absorption bands are also assigned to the NH2 radical subunit vibrational frequencies of the complex; at 1498.5 cm-1 for the ν2 HNH bending fundamental and at 3260.8 cm-1 for the ν3 NH asymmetric stretching fundamental. These assignments are verified by the isotope substitution method, involving the formation of the deuterated D2OND2 complex analogue in an Ar matrix and the measurement of the isotope induced shifts in peak position in the IR region. The isotopic shifts displayed by the IR absorption bands are in good agreement with the theoretically calculated shifts in vibration frequency when going from the H2ONH2 complex fundamentals to the D2OND2 complex fundamentals. The theoretical calculations also derived an interaction energy of 5.2 kcal mol-1 for the HOHNH2 structure of the H2ONH2 complex. This HOHNH2 structure is also confirmed as the preferred structure of the H2ONH2 complex in the IR experiments, by the observation of a large shift in position of the absorption band associated with the H2O subunit ν1 OH stretching fundamental, away from the position of the H2O monomer ν1 OH stretching fundamental. This indicates that the H2O subunit donates a hydrogen for the complex bond in the HOHNH2 complex. The NH3O2 complex is identified in solid Ar matrices at 10.5 K by IR analysis. The NH3O2 complex is formed by the co-deposition of gaseous NH3 in Ar mixtures with O2 in Ar gas mixtures. An absorption band is assigned to the ν1 OO stretching fundamental for the O2 subunit of the NH3O2 complex at 1552.0 cm-1. This assignment is verified by the isotope substitution method, involving the formation of the deuterated ND3O2 complex analogue in an Ar matrix and the measurement of the isotope induced shift in peak position in the IR region. The isotopic shift displayed by the IR absorption band is in good agreement with the theoretically calculated shift in vibration frequency when going from the NH3O2 complex fundamental to the ND3O2 complex fundamental. The theoretical calculations also derived an interaction energy of 0.28 kcal mol-1 for the NH3O2 complex.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2008

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