JACS Honors McNeill Group

The Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) has recently honored the McNeill Group by publishing on of their latest papers titled Ozone Oxidation of Surface-Adsorbed Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons: Role of PAH-Surface Interaction.


The heterogeneous chemistry of surface-adsorbed polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) plays key roles in nanoscience, environmental science, and public health. Experimental evidence shows that the substrate can influence the heterogeneous oxidation of surface-bound PAHs, however, a mechanistic understanding of the role of the surface is still lacking. We examine the effects of the PAH-substrate interaction on the oxidation of surface-adsorbed anthracene, pyrene, and benzo[a]pyrene by ozone (O3) using density functional theory. We find that some O3 oxidation mechanisms for these planar PAH molecules lead to nonplanar intermediates or products, the formation of which may necessitate partial desorption or "lift-off" from a solid substrate. The energy penalty for partial desorption of each PAH from the surface is estimated for four different substrate types on the basis of literature data and accounted for in the thermodynamic analysis of the reaction pathways. We find that the attractive PAH-substrate interaction may render oxidation pathways involving nonplanar intermediates or products thermodynamically unfavorable. The influence of the PAH-substrate interaction could contribute in part to the variations in PAH oxidation kinetics and product distributions that have been observed experimentally. Our choice of test molecules enabled us to identify trends in reactivity and product formation for four types of potentially reactive site (zigzag, armchair, bridge, and internal), allowing us to infer products and mechanisms of O3 oxidation for PAHs of larger sizes. Implications for atmospheric chemistry and the stability of graphene in the presence of O3 are discussed.

You can find more, including links to the full paper on JACS' website.

Direct link: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja1014772

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