Malinen, E. and Sagstuen, E. Radical Formation in Pyrimidine Bases after X, Proton and α-Particle Irradiation. Radiat. Res. 160, 186–197 (2003).
Single crystals of anhydrous thymine (Ta) and cytosine monohydrate (Cm) were irradiated at room temperature using X rays, 20 MeV protons and 35 MeV α particles, and the relative distributions of the various radiation-induced stable radicals in the crystals were investigated. These two crystal systems were chosen because of systematic differences in their molecular packing and hydrogen-bonding network. The radicals stabilized in these systems have previously been identified and analyzed by several authors. Experimental EPR spectra could thus be reconstructed based on simulated benchmark spectra using a fitting procedure, yielding the relative amounts of the different radical species. It was found that the relative amounts of a given radical species varied with the type of radiation used, with differences being most prominent between α particles and protons or X rays. In Ta, an increased production of hydrogen addition or abstraction radicals was found after exposure to α particles. These radicals are believed to be formed predominantly from superexcited states, resulting from the higher density of ionizations along the track of the α particle. A corresponding reduction in radicals derived from proton transfer reactions was observed in comparison with exposure to protons or X rays. In Cm, the differences were smaller than for Ta. This is probably due to differences in the arrangement of the crystal lattice between the two systems, with Cm having an extended hydrogen-bonding network promoting fast proton transfers after ionization. Most interesting, however, was the observation that more than 50% of the radical population in Cm not could be accounted for by known radical species. The population with an unknown origin was represented with a broad singlet, having a line width of 1.5 mT and a g value of 2.0045, in the spectral reconstruction procedure.