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We present a combined theoretical and experimental study of the adsorption of two pairs
of organic isomers, (i) acetic acid AA (CH3COOH) and methyl
formate MF (HCOOCH3), and (ii) ethanol EtOH
(CH3CH2OH) and dimethyl ether DME (CH3OCH3),
onto crystalline water ice surfaces at low temperatures. Both approaches show that, for
each pair, the most stable isomer from a thermodynamical point of view,
i.e. AA and EtOH, is
also the one which is the more tightly bound to the water ice surface compared to the less
stable isomers (MF and DME). This finding, which can be explained by the ability of AA or
EtOH to efficiently interact with the ice surface via hydrogen bondings, may have
important consequences in an astrophysical context, since it could explain why the most
stable isomer is not the most abundant observed in the interstellar gas phase.
In the long story of interstellar PAHs, computations have played and are still playing a
fundamental role in connection with experiments and observations. From the very first
calculations of the IR spectra of small PAHs in the late eighties to the more recent ones,
every aspect of the research linked to the PAH hypothesis has evolved dramatically: the
size and the variety of the molecules considered, the techniques used, the precision of
the astronomical observations ... The initial landscape has completely
changed though the quest is still the same, that is to correlate the so-called UIR bands
spectra ubiquitous in the ISM (Inter Stellar Medium) with a chemical family of molecules,
the PAHs. An historical review of the 25 years of this quest is presented here, focusing
on the computational part.
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