Propylene Oxide Formation on a Silica Surface with Peroxo Defects: Implications in Astrochemistry


The formation of the chiral molecule propylene oxide (CH3CHCH2O) recently detected in the interstellar medium (ISM) is proposed to take place on an amorphous silicate grain surface where peroxo defects are present. A computational analysis conducted at the DFT and MP2-F12 levels of theory on a neat amorphous silica model supports such a hypothesis resulting in (a) strong thermodynamic driving forces and low activation energies allowing the synthesis of CH3CHCH2O at low temperatures, (b) chemical defects on silica surfaces promoting heterogeneous catalysis of the increasing molecular complexity found in interstellar and circumstellar medium, and (c) chemical defects that have implications on understanding how processing phases modify the nature of the reactive groups on a silica surface affecting the surface catalytic activity.

Publication Title

Journal of Physical Chemistry A