Molecular and electronic structures of cerium and cerium suboxide clusters

Jared O. Kafader, Josey E. Topolski, Caroline Chick Jarrold*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The anion photoelectron (PE) spectra of Ce2Oy- (y = 1, 2), Ce3Oy- (y = 0-4), Ce4Oy- (y = 0-2), and Ce5Oy- (y = 1, 2) are reported and analyzed with supporting results from density functional theory calculations. The PE spectra all exhibit an intense electronic transition to the neutral ground state, all falling in the range of 0.7 to 1.1 eV electron binding energy, with polarization dependence consistent with detachment from diffuse Ce 6s-based molecular orbitals. There is no monotonic increase in electron affinity with increasing oxidation. A qualitative picture of how electronic structure evolves with an oxidation state emerges from comparison between the spectra and the computational results. The electronic structure of the smallest metallic cluster observed in this study, Ce3, is similar to the bulk structure in terms of atomic orbital occupancy (4f 5d2 6s). Initial cerium cluster oxidation involves largely ionic bond formation via Ce 5d and O 2p orbital overlap (i.e., larger O 2p contribution), with Ce - O - Ce bridge bonding favored over Ce=O terminal bond formation. With subsequent oxidation, the Ce 5d-based molecular orbitals are depleted of electrons, with the highest occupied orbitals described as diffuse Ce 6s based molecular orbitals. In the y ≤ (x + 1) range of oxidation states, each Ce center has a singly occupied non-bonding 4f orbital. The PE spectrum of Ce3O4- is unique in that it exhibits a single nearly vertical transition. The highly symmetric structure predicted computationally is the same structure determined from Ce3O4+ IR predissociation spectra [A. M. Burow et al., Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 13, 19393 (2011)], indicating that this structure is stable in -1, 0, and +1 charge states. Spectra of clusters with x ≥ 3 exhibit considerable continuum signal above the ground state transition; the intensity of the continuum signal decreases with increasing oxidation. This feature is likely the result of numerous quasi-bound anion states or two-electron transitions possible in molecules with abundant nearly degenerate partially occupied orbitals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number154306
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number15
StatePublished - Oct 21 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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