The main objective for a reinvestigation of rhamnose was to devise a mechanistic link between the trapped electron detected previously and the secondary radicals observed at 77 K and at room temperature. Single crystals of rhamnose were X-irradiated at temperatures between 15 and 300 K and examined using ESR, ENDOR, and field-swept ENDOR techniques. After low-temperature irradiation a C3 H-abstraction radical is formed following the visible light-induced decay of the trapped electron. This species was previously assigned erroneously to a C2 H-abstraction species. At temperatures above 120 K, this radical deprotonates at the C3 hydroxy group. Furthermore, a C2 H-abstraction radical is formed following the thermally induced decay of the trapped electron. The C2 and C3 H-abstraction radicals did not convert into each other. A third radical species formed at low temperatures is a C5 H-abstraction radical. It is unstable above 250 K and decays without any apparent successor. The C2 and C3 H-abstraction radicals are formed thermally and photochemically from the parent trapped electron. The conversions are mediated by hydrogen atoms formed intermediately or by elimination of hydride ions. The thermal decomposition pathway requires further studies, in particular with respect to the possible role of water. Recently, Box et al. analyzed the site of the trapped electron in rhamnose crystals. The present results support the results obtained by these authors (Radiat. Res. 121, 262 (1990)). In particular, trapped electron vs proton distances closely match the conversion mechanisms suggested.

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