Volume 631, November 2019
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||Atomic, molecular, and nuclear data|
|Published online||18 October 2019|
Synthesizing carbon nanotubes in space
School of Engineering Sciences in Chemistry, Biotechnology and Health, Department of Theoretical Chemistry & Biology, Royal Institute of Technology, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
2 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
Accepted: 19 September 2019
Context. As the fourth most abundant element in the universe, carbon (C) is widespread in the interstellar medium (ISM) in various allotropic forms (e.g. fullerenes have been identified unambiguously in many astronomical environments, the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon molecules in space has been commonly acknowledged, and presolar graphite, as well as nanodiamonds, have been identified in meteorites). As stable allotropes of these species, whether carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and their hydrogenated counterparts are also present in the ISM or not is unknown.
Aims. The aim of the present works is to explore the possible routes for the formation of CNTs in the ISM and calculate their fingerprint vibrational spectral features in the infrared (IR).
Methods. We studied the hydrogen-abstraction and acetylene-addition (HACA) mechanism and investigated the synthesis of nanotubes using density functional theory (DFT). The IR vibrational spectra of CNTs and hydrogenated nanotubes (HNTs), as well as their cations, were obtained with DFT.
Results. We find that CNTs could be synthesized in space through a feasible formation pathway. CNTs and cationic CNTs, as well as their hydrogenated counterparts, exhibit intense vibrational transitions in the IR. Their possible presence in the ISM could be investigated by comparing the calculated vibrational spectra with astronomical observations made by the Infrared Space Observatory, Spitzer Space Telescope, and particularly the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope.
Key words: astrochemistry / molecular data / molecular processes / ISM: lines and bands / infrared: ISM / ISM: molecules
© ESO 2019
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