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Laboratory astrochemistry: catalytic reactions of organic molecules over olivine-type silicates and SiC

  • Qian Li (a1), B. S. Liu (a2), P. J. Sarre (a3) and A. S-C. Cheung (a1)

Abstract

A series of catalytic reactions has been performed in our laboratory using olivine-type silicates (OTS) and SiC as catalysts for the conversion of carbon-containing molecules (such as acetylene, CO and methanol) to small organic molecules (C2H4, C3H3, CH3O) and also polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Experimentally, small-to-medium-sized gas-phase compounds such as PAHs, reaction intermediates and hydrocarbon compounds were detected in situ using the time-of-light mass-spectrometry technique. Solid deposition on the catalyst surface was examined by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy and thermo-gravimetric analysis techniques. Our laboratory results show that the conversion of acetylene to PAHs, the CO disproportionation reaction for producing CO2 and carbon deposition (graphitic and carbon nanostructures), and also the transformation of methanol to hydrocarbon compounds can easily be achieved with OTS as a catalyst. Furthermore, the conversion of acetylene to PAHs could also be achieved by SiC as the catalyst. It is proposed that these catalytic reactions mimic similar chemical processes in circumstellar envelopes (CSEs).

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Keywords

Laboratory astrochemistry: catalytic reactions of organic molecules over olivine-type silicates and SiC

  • Qian Li (a1), B. S. Liu (a2), P. J. Sarre (a3) and A. S-C. Cheung (a1)

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