I propose to investigate radiation-induced dissociation of DNA building blocks by coincident determination of the momenta of the collision products. The unprecedented possibilities, arising from the development of reaction microscopes and the advent of high- speed digitizers, render even kinematically complete studies possible. Cross sections for different dissociation channels as well as momenta of fragment ions and emitted electrons will be measured.
The proposed studies have their direct application in the context of biomolecular radiation damage: The biological effects of ionising radiation in living cells are not a mere result of the direct impact of high energy quanta of radiation. Secondary particles such as low energy electrons, radicals and (multiply charged) ions are formed within the track. The interaction of these secondary particles with DNA is responsible for a large fraction of biological radiation damage to a cell. For a quantitative understanding of this damage I thus plan to investigate the interaction of ionising radiation with molecules naturally surrounding DNA in the cell nucleus (proteins, water, DNA building blocks). The obtained data can be used as an input for track structure calculations to estimate biological radiation damage potentials.
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