Indene formation under single-collision conditions from the reaction of phenyl radicals with allene and methylacetylene--a crossed molecular beam and ab initio study

Chem Asian J. 2011 Nov 4;6(11):3035-47. doi: 10.1002/asia.201100535. Epub 2011 Sep 28.


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are regarded as key intermediates in the molecular growth process that forms soot from incomplete fossil fuel combustion. Although heavily researched, the reaction mechanisms for PAH formation have only been investigated through bulk experiments; therefore, current models remain conjectural. We report the first observation of a directed synthesis of a PAH under single-collision conditions. By using a crossed-molecular-beam apparatus, phenyl radicals react with C(3)H(4) isomers, methylacetylene and allene, to form indene at collision energies of 45 kJ mol(-1). The reaction dynamics supported by theoretical calculations show that both isomers decay through the same collision complex, are indirect, have long lifetimes, and form indene in high yields. Through the use of deuterium-substituted reactants, we were able to identify the reaction pathway to indene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alkadienes / chemistry*
  • Alkynes / chemistry*
  • Deuterium / chemistry
  • Free Radicals / chemistry
  • Indenes / analysis
  • Indenes / chemical synthesis*
  • Isomerism
  • Models, Chemical
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / chemical synthesis*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / chemistry*
  • Soot / chemistry*
  • Soot / metabolism


  • Alkadienes
  • Alkynes
  • Free Radicals
  • Indenes
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Soot
  • methylacetylene
  • propadiene
  • indene
  • Deuterium