Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Dong-Sheng Yang


Group 3 metal clusters are synthesized by laser vaporization in a pulsed cluster beam source and identified with laser ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. The adiabatic ionization energies and vibrational frequencies of these clusters are measured using mass-analyzed threshold ionization (MATI) spectroscopy. Their structures and electronic states are determined by combining the MATI spectra with quantum chemical calculations and spectral simulations. This dissertation focuses on the study of several small molecules, which include LaO2, La2, M2O2, M3O4, M3C2, and La3C2O, where M = Sc, Y, and La. Except for La2, these molecules exhibit strong ionic characters between the metal and oxygen or carbon atoms and can be described as [O-][La2+][O-], [M2+]2[O2-]2, [M8/3+]3[O2-]4, [M2+]3[C3-]2, and [La8/3+]3[C3-]2[O2-]. The interactions between the metal atoms form covalent bonds, which can be described by a triple bond in La2, a two-center two electron bond in M2O2, a three-center one electron bond in M3O4, and a three-center three electron bond in M3C2. In addition, the electron in the non-bonding highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) is localized in the La 6s orbital in LaO2 and La3C2O. The ground states of these molecules are all in low electron-spin states with the spin multiplicities of 1 or 2. Although the ground electronic state of LaO2 is a linear structure, the excited quartet state of the molecule is determined to be a bent structure. M2O2 and M3O4 have the planar rhombic and cage-like structures, respectively; whereas M3C2 has a trigonal bipyramid structure. La3C2O is formed by oxygen binding with two La atoms of La3C2. Ionization removes a metal-based (n+1)s electron in all neutral molecules, and the resultant ions have similar geometries to those of the corresponding neutral states. In the case of La2, additional ionization of a La 5d electron is also observed.