Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

M. Samy El-Shall


Gas phase molecular clusters present an ideal medium for observing factors that drive chemical reactions without outside interferences from excessive solvent molecules. Introducing an ion into the cluster promotes ion-molecule interactions that may manifest in a variety of non-covalent or even covalent binding motifs and are of significant importance in many fields including atmospheric and astronomical sciences. For instance, in outer space, molecules are subject to ionizing radiation where ion-molecule reactions become increasingly competitive to molecule-molecule interactions. To elucidate individual ion-molecule interaction information, mass spectrometry was used in conjunction with appropriate theoretical calculations.

Three main categories of experiment were conducted in this dissertation. The first of which were thermochemical equilibrium measurements where an ion was introduced to an ion mobility drift cell wherein thermalizing collisions occur with helium buffer gas facilitating a reversible reaction with a neutral molecule allowing the standard changes in enthalpy and entropy to be determined. The second type of experiment was an ion mobility experiment where an ionized homo- or hetero-cluster was injected into the drift cell at specific conditions allowing the reduced mobility and collisional cross-section to be evaluated. Thirdly, kinetics measurements were taken following injection of an ion into the drift cell were an irreversible reaction ensued with the neutral species hindering equilibrium, but prompting rate constant assessment.

Previous research has laid the groundwork for this dissertation as the results and discussion contained herein will build upon existing data while maintaining originality. For example, past work has given support for ion-molecule reactions involving precursor species such as acetylene and hydrogen cyanide to form more complex organics, perhaps leading to biologically relevant species. The chemical systems studied for this research are either ionized substituted benzenes like phenylacetylene and benzonitrile or polycyclic aromatic nitrogen-containing hydrocarbons like quinoline and quinoxaline interacting with a variety of neutral species.

Hydrogen bonding and its many sub-sections are of the utmost importance to the kinds of reactions studied here. Past work has shown the tendency of organic radical cations to form conventional and unconventional ionic hydrogen bonds with gas phase solvents. Other non-covalent modes of interaction have also been detected in addition to the formation of covalently bound species. Gas phase reactions studied here will explore, via mass-selected ion mobility, reversible and irreversible reactions leading to binding enthalpy and entropy and rate constant determination, respectively, in addition to collisional cross-section determination.


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