PAH formation under single collision conditions: reaction of phenyl radical and 1,3-butadiene to form 1,4-dihydronaphthalene

J Phys Chem A. 2012 May 3;116(17):4248-58. doi: 10.1021/jp301775z. Epub 2012 Apr 25.


The crossed beam reactions of the phenyl radical (C(6)H(5), X(2)A(1)) with 1,3-butadiene (C(4)H(6), X(1)A(g)) and D6-1,3-butadiene (C(4)D(6), X(1)A(g)) as well as of the D5-phenyl radical (C(6)D(5), X(2)A(1)) with 2,3-D2-1,3-butadiene and 1,1,4,4-D4-1,3-butadiene were carried out under single collision conditions at collision energies of about 55 kJ mol(-1). Experimentally, the bicyclic 1,4-dihydronaphthalene molecule was identified as a major product of this reaction (58 ± 15%) with the 1-phenyl-1,3-butadiene contributing 34 ± 10%. The reaction is initiated by a barrierless addition of the phenyl radical to the terminal carbon atom of the 1,3-butadiene (C1/C4) to form a bound intermediate; the latter underwent hydrogen elimination from the terminal CH(2) group of the 1,3-butadiene molecule leading to 1-phenyl-trans-1,3-butadiene through a submerged barrier. The dominant product, 1,4-dihydronaphthalene, is formed via an isomerization of the adduct by ring closure and emission of the hydrogen atom from the phenyl moiety at the bridging carbon atom through a tight exit transition state located about 31 kJ mol(-1) above the separated products. The hydrogen atom was found to leave the decomposing complex almost parallel to the total angular momentum vector and perpendicularly to the rotation plane of the decomposing intermediate. The defacto barrierless formation of the 1,4-dihydronaphthalene molecule involving a single collision between a phenyl radical and 1,3-butadiene represents an important step in the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their partially hydrogenated counterparts in combustion and interstellar chemistry.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Butadienes / chemistry*
  • Free Radicals / chemistry
  • Naphthalenes / chemical synthesis*
  • Naphthalenes / chemistry
  • Quantum Theory


  • Butadienes
  • Free Radicals
  • Naphthalenes
  • 1,3-butadiene