18-Mar-2009 - Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)

Carbon rising from the flames

Scientists in the US offer new insights into how polycyclic aromatic pollutants are formed in flames and other combustion processes.

Peter Vollhardt and colleagues from the University of California, and William Karney from the University of San Francisco, in the US, use flash-vacuum-pyrolytic reorganisation of angular [4]phenylene to obtain new data on the mechanisms by which polycyclic aromatic pollutants are formed in combustion processes.

Significantly, Vollhardt and his team provide data on a new form of carbon using this process. Unlike graphite, which consists of fused (six-membered) benzene rings; this new structure is composed of fused alternating 4-, 6- and 8-membered rings. Such a carbon allotrope is calculated to be electronically highly activated and therefore has potential as a novel semiconductor.

"The challenge is to modify the method to improve yields, perhaps through the discovery of catalysts," says Vollhardt. In the future, he hopes to extend the study to synthesise larger phenylene sheet substructures in order to access other electronic and photonic materials.

Original article: Dosa et. al.; "Flash-vacuum-pyrolytic reorganization of angular [4]phenylene"; Chem. Commun. 2009

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