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Title: Spontaneous Hall effects in the electron system at the SmTiO 3 /EuTiO 3 interface
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APL Materials
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Medium: X
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National Science Foundation
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  2. Abstract

    Carbonyl-bearing complex organic molecules (COMs) in the interstellar medium (ISM) are of significant importance due to their role as potential precursors to biomolecules. Simple aldehydes and ketones like acetaldehyde, acetone, and propanal have been recognized as fundamental molecular building blocks and tracers of chemical processes involved in the formation of distinct COMs in molecular clouds and star-forming regions. Although previous laboratory simulation experiments and modeling established the potential formation pathways of interstellar acetaldehyde and propanal, the underlying formation routes to the simplest ketone—acetone—in the ISM are still elusive. Herein, we performed a systematic study to unravel the synthesis of acetone, its propanal and propylene oxide isomers, as well as the propenol tautomers in interstellar analog ices composed of methane and acetaldehyde along with isotopic-substitution studies to trace the reaction pathways of the reactive intermediates. Chemical processes in the ices were triggered at 5.0 K upon exposure to proxies of Galactic cosmic rays in the form of energetic electrons. The products were detected isomer-selectively via vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) photoionization reflectron time-of-flight mass spectrometry. In our experiments, the branching ratio of acetone (CH3COCH3):propylene oxide (c-CH3CHOCH2):propanal (CH3CH2CHO) was determined to be (4.82 ± 0.05):(2.86 ± 0.13):1. The radical–radical recombination reaction leading to acetone emerged as the dominant channel. The propenols appeared only at a higher radiation dose via keto–enol tautomerization. The current study provides mechanistic information on the fundamental nonequilibrium pathways that may be responsible for the formation of acetone and its (enol) isomers inside the interstellar icy grains.

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