Indexed on: 15 May '14Published on: 15 May '14Published in: Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters
One-photon multiple ionization is a signature of dynamical electron correlations in atoms and small molecules, as observed in the Auger process when Auger electron emission follows core-shell ionization. In such a process, the high energy needed to remove several electrons is due to the strong Coulombic attraction between the last departing electron(s) and the ionic core. Multiply negatively charged molecules offer the possibility to overcome the Coulombic attraction, opening the way for multielectron photodetachment following valence shell excitation. Here photodetachment studies have been performed on electrosprayed protein polyanions using vacuum ultraviolet synchrotron radiation coupled to a radiofrequency ion trap. Double, triple, and quadruple electron emissions from protein polyanions resulting from single-photon excitation in the valence shell were observed with ionization thresholds below 20 eV photon energy. This suggests the existence of large electronic correlations in proteins between weakly bound electrons standing on distant sites. Besides, the resulting multiradical polyanions appear to be remarkably stable, an important issue in radiobiology.