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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dynamics of Low Energy Electron Attachment to Formic Acid


Low-energy electrons (<2 eV) can fragment gas phase formic acid (HCOOH) molecules through resonant dissociative attachment processes. Recent experiments have shown that the principal reaction products of such collisions are formate ions (HCOO-) and hydrogen atoms. Using first-principles electron scattering calculations, we have identified the responsible negative ion state as a transient \pi* anion. Symmetry considerations dictate that the associated dissociation dynamics are intrinsically polyatomic: a second anion surface, connected to the first by a conical intersection, is involved in the dynamics and the transient anion must necessarily deform to non-planar geometries before it can dissociate to the observed stable products.

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