Physical Chemistry

PAH growth in flames and space: Formation of phenalenyl radical



Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are intermediates in the formation of soot particles and interstellar grains. However, their formation mechanisms in combustion and interstellar environments are not fully understood. The production of tricyclic PAHs and, in particular, the conversion of a PAH containing a five-membered ring to one with a six-membered ring is of interest to explain PAH abundances in combustion processes. In the present work, resonant ionization mass spectrometry in conjunction with isotopic labelling is used to investigate the formation of the phenalenyl radical from acenaphthylene and methane in an electrical discharge. We show that in this environment, the CH cycloaddition mechanism converts a five-membered ring to a six-membered ring. This mechanism can occur in tandem with other PAH formation mechanisms such as hydrogen abstraction/ acetylene addition (HACA) to produce larger PAHs in flames and the interstellar medium.


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Supplementary material

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Supplementary Information
Reaction schemes for CH insertion