Date of Award

Winter 2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Hai-Lung Dai


Energy transfer from molecular species has been a long standing topic of profound interest to the chemical physics community. It is worth noting however, that to date, most studies have preferentially focused on chemically stable molecular species. While the literature does contain numerous examples of energy transfer of small radical or chemically unstable species, there have been extremely few studies which have actually probed highly vibrationally excited species. This apparent lack of attention should not be confused with a lack of interest. On the contrary, given the prevalence of vibrationally excited radicals in complex chemical systems such as planetary atmospheres and combustion, it is highly desirable to gain a complete understanding of the energetic deactivation processes of these delicate species. More often than not, the limiting factor which prevents examination of such species is a lack of spectroscopic information which is necessary for the identification as well as modeling of the corresponding species.

In this thesis, we explore the use of time-resolved Fourier transform infrared emission spectroscopy, coupled with ab initio quantum chemical calculations, as a means of characterizing the vibrationally excited energy transfer dynamics from hydrogen isocyanide (HNC) as well as the ketenyl (HCCO) radical. It has been determined that each of these radical species can be generated in appreciable relative concentrations and with excess internal energy, following the 193 nm photolysis of specific stable molecular precursors. Through variation of the associated inert atomic collider species, and repeated spectral fitting analysis, it becomes feasible to obtain a measure the time-resolved average internal energy (as a function of the collider species), and hence a measure of the vibrational energy transfer efficiency of each radical species. It is observed that both HNC and HCCO exhibit enhanced vibrational energy transfer, for all average internal energies, relative to comparably sized stable molecular species. The roles and associated benefits of enhanced energy transfer of these radical species, to combustion chemistry (HCCO) as well as the interstellar medium (HNC), will be discussed.

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