In this project funded by the Chemical Structure, Dynamics and Mechanisms Program of the Chemistry Division, Professor Dennis Clouthier of the University of Kentucky will use laser spectroscopic methods to study the electronic spectra of main group reactive intermediates, concentrating on free radicals containing phosphorus, arsenic, boron and group III metals. These species will be generated by electron impact fragmentation of stable precursor compounds, cooled to temperatures of a few Kelvin in a supersonic expansion, and detected by laser-induced fluorescence and resonance enhanced multiphoton ionization.
Many of these transient molecules are of interest as they occur as semiconductor growth intermediates. In addition, there is a high probability that the free radicals containing phosphorus and aluminum can be found in the interstellar medium once they have been identified and characterized in the laboratory. The spectroscopic information obtained from these transient species will provide necessary benchmark data for future studies of reactive species in industrial processes and chemical reactions. This project will provide training for a new generation of physical chemists in a technically demanding and challenging area of science in which there is a dearth of well-qualified practitioners.