Predicting the photoresponse of soot nuclei: Spectroscopic characteristics of aromatic aggregates containing five-membered rings

RA Krueger and G Blanquart, COMBUSTION AND FLAME, 217, 85-92 (2020).

DOI: 10.1016/j.combustflame.2019.10.028

Establishing the mechanism for soot nucleation will require in situ experimental characterization of the identity and intermolecular interactions of the initial precursors, and electronic spectroscopy methods have the potential to do both. However, the optical response of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) dimers and complexes differs significantly from that of the constituent monomers, and studies of soot precursor complexes have largely been limited to PAHs containing only six-membered aromatic rings. Hydrocarbons containing unsaturated five- membered rings are also present in high concentration in flames, and the photoresponse of complexes containing five-membered rings has not yet been examined. In this work, we elucidate the spectroscopic properties of small hydrocarbon complexes containing cyclopentadienyl groups or cyclopenta-fused groups, calculating ground- and excited-state binding energies, optimal excited-state geometries, repulsion energies, and fluorescence emission wavelengths. We show that excited-state distortion of cyclopentadienyl groups allows strong binding and low-energy fluorescence emission compared to similar-sized PAHs, and that a cyclopenta-fused group dramatically lowers the absorption and emission energies for acenaphthylene, dominating excited-state noncovalent interactions-findings that could shed light on the complex electronic properties of flames. (C) 2019 Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of The Combustion Institute.

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