Detection of free radicals in low-temperature gas-grain reactions of astrophysical interest
Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute, 26 Politekhnicheskaya, St. Petersburg 194021, Russia
Corresponding author: R. A. Zhitnikov, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 20 February 2002
For laboratory detection and investigation of free radicals which often appear in chemical reactions of astrophysical interest either as important intermediate or as final products, we pioneered the use of the electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) technique, which is very effective in observing these substances. This has allowed both formyl (HCO and DCO) and methyl (CH3 and CD3) free radicals to be detected in a sequence of low-temperature gas-grain reactions of H and D atom addition in solid CO. The solid samples subjected to the EPR study were obtained by simultaneous independent deposition of CO molecules and either H or D atoms on the substrate cooled to liquid helium temperatures. The sequence of the H-atom addition gas-grain reactions in solid CO is acknowledged to be among the fundamental processes responsible for the synthesis of organic molecules in interstellar cloud dust grains. The present observation of the above free radicals confirms that the solid-state gas-grain sequence of the reactions is efficient at low temperatures; it also suggests that there should be considerable concentrations of formyl and methyl radicals in the ISM. Another study concentrated on the formation of ethyl free radicals (C2H5) in a low-temperature gas-grain reaction of H-atom abstraction from a C2H6 molecule by free H-atom in solid CH4. These experiments were carried out by deposition onto a substrate, cooled by liquid helium, of a flow of CH4 molecules containing a small amount of impurities such as ethane molecules (C2H6), free H-atoms and CH3 radicals formed in a discharge in a pure gaseous methane. EPR spectra of CH3 radicals, H-atoms, and C2H5 radicals matrix-isolated in solid CH4 were detected. The relative concentrations of the radicals were found to depend on the experimental conditions. The abstraction reaction, C2H6 + H C2H5 + H2, took place in CH4-ice.
Key words: astrochemistry / molecular processes / methods: laboratory / ISM: dust, extinction / ISM: molecules / ISM: atoms
© ESO, 2002