Adsorption of Organic Molecules on Onion-like Carbons: Insights on the Formation of Interstellar Hydrocarbons

HA Qi and S Picaud and M Devel and EW Liang and Z Wang, ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 867, 133 (2018).

DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/aae4e4

Using atomistic simulations, we characterize the adsorption process of organic molecules on carbon nanoparticles, both of which have been reported to be abundant in the interstellar medium (ISM). The aromatic organics are found to adsorb more readily than the aliphatic ones. This selectivity would favor the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) or fullerene-like structures in the ISM due to a structural similarity. In our simulations, we also observed that the molecules form a monolayer over the nanoparticle surface before stacking up in aggregates. This suggests a possible layer-by-layer formation process of onion-like nanostructures in the ISM. These findings reveal the possible role of carbon nanoparticles as selective catalysts that could provide reaction substrates for the formation of interstellar PAHs, high fullerenes, and soots from gas-phase molecules.

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