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Department of Chemistry

LightChEC team discovers new autocatalytic burning mechanism of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons


Anaïs Mairena, Christian Wäckerlin and Karl-Heinz Ernst published together with collaborators from France and Germany a surprising result in The Journal of the American Chemical Society: On a saturated monolayer of atomic oxygen on a Cu surface, the mechanism of combustion of hydrocarbons depends crucially on their stereochemistry. Namely, sterically overcrowded polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), such as helicenes, decompose autocatalytically in a so-called surface explosion, while planar PAHs do not. This discovery shines new light onto autocatalytic surface chemistry and heterogeneous catalysis.

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Dr. Christian Wäckerlin

Überlandstrasse 129
8600 Dübendorf

Phone: +41 58 765 6087
E-Mail: Christian Wäckerlin
Office: LA 355