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Photochemistry of the pyruvate anion produces CO2, CO, CH3–, CH3, and a low energy electron

Clarke, Connor J.; Gibbard, Jemma A.; Hutton, Lewis; Verlet, Jan R.R.; Curchod, Basile F.E.

Photochemistry of the pyruvate anion produces CO2, CO, CH3–, CH3, and a low energy electron Thumbnail


Connor J. Clarke

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Dr Jemma Gibbard
Royal Society University Research Fellow

Lewis Hutton


The photochemistry of pyruvic acid has attracted much scientific interest because it is believed to play critical roles in atmospheric chemistry. However, under most atmospherically relevant conditions, pyruvic acid deprotonates to form its conjugate base, the photochemistry of which is essentially unknown. Here, we present a detailed study of the photochemistry of the isolated pyruvate anion and uncover that it is extremely rich. Using photoelectron imaging and computational chemistry, we show that photoexcitation by UVA light leads to the formation of CO2, CO, and CH3−. The observation of the unusual methide anion formation and its subsequent decomposition into methyl radical and a free electron may hold important consequences for atmospheric chemistry. From a mechanistic perspective, the initial decarboxylation of pyruvate necessarily differs from that in pyruvic acid, due to the missing proton in the anion.


Clarke, C. J., Gibbard, J. A., Hutton, L., Verlet, J. R., & Curchod, B. F. (2022). Photochemistry of the pyruvate anion produces CO2, CO, CH3–, CH3, and a low energy electron. Nature Communications, 13(1), Article 937.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 1, 2022
Online Publication Date Feb 17, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Mar 15, 2022
Publicly Available Date Mar 16, 2022
Journal Nature Communications
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 1
Article Number 937


Accepted Journal Article (Supplementary Information) (360 Kb)

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