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Pyrene synthesis in circumstellar envelopes and its role in the formation of 2D nanostructures

  • Author(s): Zhao, L;
  • Kaiser, RI;
  • Xu, B;
  • Ablikim, U;
  • Ahmed, M;
  • Joshi, D;
  • Veber, G;
  • Fischer, FR;
  • Mebel, AM
  • et al.

For the past decades, the hydrogen-abstraction/acetylene-addition (HACA) mechanism has been instrumental in attempting to untangle the origin of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as identified in carbonaceous meteorites such as Allende and Murchison. However, the fundamental reaction mechanisms leading to the synthesis of PAHs beyond phenanthrene (C14H10) are still unknown. By exploring the reaction of the 4-phenanthrenyl radical (C14H9• ) with acetylene (C2H2) under conditions prevalent in carbon-rich circumstellar environments, we show evidence of a facile, isomer-selective formation of pyrene (C16H10). Along with the hydrogen-abstraction/vinylacetylene-addition (HAVA) mechanism, molecular mass growth processes from pyrene may lead through systematic ring expansions not only to more complex PAHs, but ultimately to 2D graphene-type structures. These fundamental reaction mechanisms are crucial to facilitate an understanding of the origin and evolution of the molecular universe and, in particular, of carbon in our Galaxy.

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