Benzonitrile: Electron affinity, excited states, and anion solvation

Andrew R. Dixon, Dmitry Khuseynov, Andrei Sanov

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15 Scopus citations


We report a negative-ion photoelectron imaging study of benzonitrile and several of its hydrated, oxygenated, and homo-molecularly solvated cluster anions. The photodetachment from the unsolvated benzonitrile anion to the X-1 A1 state of the neutral peaks at 58 ± 5 meV. This value is assigned as the vertical detachment energy (VDE) of the valence anion and the upper bound of adiabatic electron affinity (EA) of benzonitrile. The EA of the lowest excited electronic state of benzonitrile, ã 3 A1, is determined as 3.41 ± 0.01 eV, corresponding to a 3.35 eV lower bound for the singlet-triplet splitting. The next excited state, the open-shell singlet à 1 A1, is found about an electron-volt above the triplet, with a VDE of 4.45 ± 0.01 eV. These results are in good agreement with ab initio calculations for neutral benzonitrile and its valence anion but do not preclude the existence of a dipole-bound state of similar energy and geometry. The step-wise and cumulative solvation energies of benzonitrile anions by several types of species were determined, including homo-molecular solvation by benzonitrile, hydration by 1-3 waters, oxygenation by 1-3 oxygen molecules, and mixed solvation by various combinations of O2, H2O, and benzonitrile. The plausible structures of the dimer anion of benzonitrile were examined using density functional theory and compared to the experimental observations. It is predicted that the dimer anion favors a stacked geometry capitalizing on the π-π interactions between the two partially charged benzonitrile moieties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number134306
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number13
StatePublished - Oct 7 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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