We have investigated the response of superhydrogenated gas-phase coronene cations upon soft x-ray absorption. Carbon (1s)⟶π⋆ transitions were resonantly excited at hν =285 eV. The resulting core hole is then filled in an Auger decay process, with the excess energy being released in the form of an Auger electron. Predominantly highly excited dications are thus formed, which cool down by hydrogen emission. In superhydrogenated systems, the additional H atoms act as a buffer, quenching loss of native H atoms and molecular fragmentation. Dissociation and transition state energies for several H loss channels were computed by means of density functional theory. Using these energies as input into an Arrhenius-type cascade model, very good agreement with the experimental data is found. The results have important implications for the survival of polyaromatic hydrocarbons in the interstellar medium and reflect key aspects of graphene hydrogenation.
- Inner-shell excitation and ionization
- Photon interactions with molecules
- Molecular and chemical processes and interactions