Modeling the dissociation and ionization of a sputtered organic molecule

V. Solomko, M. Verstraete, A. Delcorte, B. J. Garrison, X. Gonze, P. Bertrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The evolution of an organic molecule after sputtering from a gold surface has been analyzed by classical molecular dynamics and ab initio calculations to gain insight into the ionization and fragmentation processes occurring in SIMS. The calculated ionization potential (6.2 eV) of the tetraphenylnaphthalene (TPN) molecule has been found to be close to the unimolecular dissociation energy (5.4 eV) of the most favorable reaction channel involving the loss of a phenyl ring. On the other hand, our calculations show that the internal energies of sputtered TPN molecules can be significantly larger than 5-6 eV. Therefore, it appears energetically possible to relax such excited molecules via both fragmentation and ionization. We propose to virtually decompose the TPN molecule into its basic fragments. The rationale is that, if the molecule is very excited, then separate parts (e.g. pendant phenyl rings) can interact with each other almost independently. The analysis of the molecular motion after emission shows that the oscillations along the phenyl-naphthalene bond direction, expected to induce the molecule fragmentation by the loss of a phenyl ring, are relatively small (they store only about 0.2 eV). On the other hand, the relative energy stored in the inter-phenyl interactions, modulated by their bending and responsible for ionization according to our hypothesis, oscillates over a range of 6-7 eV and favors ionization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6459-6462
Number of pages4
JournalApplied Surface Science
Issue number19
StatePublished - Jul 30 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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