Investigating excited electronic states in fullerenes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons using Femtosecond Laser Photoelectron spectrometry
Fullerenes have highly excited electronic states with interesting properties for possible wide ranging applications including in electronics. These highly excited, Rydberg-like states, so-called superatom molecular orbitals (SAMOs), are diffuse low-angular momenta states with molecular orbitals centred on the hollow fullerene core. The SAMOs can be detected by femtosecond photoelectron spectroscopy (PES) and characterised by photoelectron angular distributions (PADs) combined with time-dependent density functional theory (TD-DFT) calculations. The photoelectron spectra of C60 and C70 show a peak structure below kinetic energies corresponding to the photon energy, superimposed on a thermal electron background. This peak structure was assigned to one-photon ionisation of the SAMO states based on PAD and TD-DFT. In this thesis, studies of the fullerene species C82 and Sc3N@C80 revealed PES and PAD with similar features to C60 and C70. The SAMO peaks became less prominent compared to the thermal electron background for increasing molecular size and decreasing symmetry, and were almost absent for the endohedral species. To provide more information about the influence of encapsulated atoms in the fullerene cage on the SAMO states, experiments on Li@C60 have been carried out. A lower thermal electron emission temperature and a splitting of the SAMO peaks has been observed for Li@C60 compared to C60. Nevertheless the binding energies are remarkably similar in all investigated fullerenes, which is important for any applications. Since the binding energies are about the same, but the ionisation potentials of the fullerenes are different, the excitation energy to the SAMOs scales with the ionisation energy. The reasons for the well-pronounced peak structure of the SAMO states in the PES of C60 could be explained by the similarity of the SAMOs to Rydberg states along with the higher photoionisation probabilities compared to valence states which were modelled by Benoît Mignolet and Françoise Remacle. As the SAMOs are highly excited electronic states, like Rydberg states, the potential energy surface of the neutral molecule and the ionised molecule are similar. Therefore the vibrational energy is conserved in the molecule during the photoionisation on the femtosecond time scale. The TD-DFT calculations on C60, carried out by Benoît Mignolet and Françoise Remacle, revealed the photoionisation probabilities of the SAMOs to be at least three orders of magnitude higher than for non-SAMOs for the applied experimental conditions. To test the prediction of the model, the relative photoionisation probabilities of the s-SAMO to p-SAMO and the s-SAMO to d-SAMO were obtained experimentally from the PES at various photon energies (2-3.5 eV) within this work. The analysis indicates remarkable agreement between the experiment and the theoretical values. Further quantum chemical calculations on a series of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were carried out within this thesis, which revealed similar Rydberg-like molecular orbitals in analogy to the SAMOs in fullerenes. The first series included benzene, naphthalene, anthracene, tetracene, pentacene and hexacene. The second series consisted of phenanthrene, pyrene and coronene. Finally, the third series covered cubane, adamantane and dodecahedral C20. All modelled molecules showed diffuse, excited electronic states similar to the SAMOs. Within each series the binding energies of these states decrease with increasing molecular size as well as the ionisation energies, except for the 3rd series. A comparison between all series shows that the binding energies of the states for the 3rd series (the 3-D series) are slightly higher than for the 1st and 2nd series in relation to similar molecular size. The results of the coronene calculations are compared to experimental photoelectron spectra and are shown to be in good agreement with the experiments.