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Title

Graphene etching on SiC grains as a path to interstellar polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons formation

AuthorsMerino-Mateo, Pablo ; Martínez, José I. ; Cernicharo, José ; Martín-Gago, José A.
KeywordsAstronomy
Condensed matter
Physical sciences
Issue Date2014
PublisherNature Publishing Group
CitationNature Communications 5: 3054 (2014)
AbstractPolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons as well as other organic molecules appear among the most abundant observed species in interstellar space and are key molecules to understanding the prebiotic roots of life. However, their existence and abundance in space remain a puzzle. Here we present a new top-down route to form polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in large quantities in space. We show that aromatic species can be efficiently formed on the graphitized surface of the abundant silicon carbide stardust on exposure to atomic hydrogen under pressure and temperature conditions analogous to those of the interstellar medium. To this aim, we mimic the circumstellar environment using ultra-high vacuum chambers and investigate the SiC surface by in situ advanced characterization techniques combined with first-principles molecular dynamics calculations. These results suggest that top-down routes are crucial to astrochemistry to explain the abundance of organic species and to uncover the origin of unidentified infrared emission features from advanced observations. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/94324
DOI10.1038/ncomms4054
Identifiersdoi: 10.1038/ncomms4054
e-issn: 2041-1723
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