Nitrile versus isonitrile adsorption at interstellar grains surfaces: I. Hydroxylated surfaces

Abstract : Context. Almost 20% of the 200 different species detected in the interstellar and circumstellar media present a carbon atom linked to nitrogen by a triple bond. Among these 37 molecules, 30 are nitrile R-CN compounds, the remaining seven belonging to the isonitrile R-NC family. How these species behave in presence of the grain surfaces is still an open question. Aims. In this contribution we investigate whether the difference between nitrile and isonitrile functional groups may induce differences in the adsorption energies of the related isomers at the surfaces of interstellar grains of different nature and morphologies. Methods. The question was addressed by means of a concerted experimental and theoretical study of the adsorption energies of CH3CN and CH3NC on the surface water ice and silica. The experimental determination of the molecule - surface interaction energies was carried out using temperature programmed desorption (TPD) under an ultra-high vacuum (UHV) between 70 and 160 K. Theoretically, the question was addressed using first principle periodic density functional theory (DFT) to represent the organized solid support. Results. The most stable isomer (CH3CN) interacts more efficiently with the solid support than the higher energy isomer (CH3NC) for water ice and silica. Comparing with the HCN and HNC pair of isomers, the simulations show an opposite behaviour, in which isonitrile HNC are more strongly adsorbed than nitrile HCN provided that hydrogen bonds are compatible with the nature of the model surface. Conclusions. The present study confirms that the strength of the molecule surface interaction between isomers is not related to their intrinsic stability but instead to their respective ability to generate different types of hydrogen bonds. Coupling TPD to first principle simulations is a powerful method for investigating the possible role of interstellar surfaces in the release of organic species from grains, depending on the environment. © ESO, 2017.
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M. Bertin, M. Doronin, J.-H. Fillion, X. Michaut, L. Philippe, et al.. Nitrile versus isonitrile adsorption at interstellar grains surfaces: I. Hydroxylated surfaces. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2017, 598, pp.A18. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201629394⟩. ⟨hal-01515153⟩

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