In this work, the chemical changes in calf thymus DNA samples were analyzed by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The DNA samples were irradiated for over 5h and spectra were taken repeatedly every 30min. In this approach the X-ray beam both damages and probes the samples. In most cases, XPS spectra have complex shapes due to contributions of C, N, and O atoms bonded at several different sites. We show that from a comparative analysis of the modification in XPS line shapes of the C 1s, O 1s, N 1s, and P 2p peaks, one can gain insight into a number of reaction pathways leading to radiation damage to DNA.

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