When coupled with transient absorption spectroscopy, pulse radiolysis, which utilizes high-energy electron pulses from an accelerator, is a powerful tool for investigating the kinetics and thermodynamics of a wide range of radiation-induced redox and electron transfer processes. The majority of these investigations detect transient species in the UV, visible, or near-IR spectral regions. Unfortunately, the often-broad and featureless absorption bands in these regions can make the definitive identification of intermediates difficult. Time-resolved vibrational spectroscopy would offer much improved structural characterization, but has received only limited application in pulse radiolysis. In this paper, we describe in detail the development of a unique nanosecond time-resolved infrared (TRIR) detection capability for condensed-phase pulse radiolysis on a new beam line at the LEAF facility of Brookhaven National Laboratory. The system makes use of a suite of high-power, continuous wave external-cavity quantum cascade lasers as the IR probe source, with coverage from 2330 to 1051 cm-1. The response time of the TRIR detection setup is ∼40 ns, with a typical sensitivity of ∼100 μOD after 4-8 signal averages using a dual-beam probe/reference normalization detection scheme. This new detection method has enabled mechanistic investigations of a range of radiation-induced chemical processes, some of which are highlighted here.
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