Exploring Interstellar Chemistry with Broadband Reaction Screening

Zaleski, Daniel Paul, Department of Chemistry, University of Virginia
Pate, Brooks, Department of Chemistry, University of Virginia

Chirped pulse Fourier transform microwave (CP-FTMW) spectroscopy is a powerful technique for molecular detection and characterization. One of the strengths of this technique is the ability to analyze complex mixtures quickly and unambiguously. This capability is exploited utilizing a method called broadband reaction screening. Discussed in this thesis, chemical reactions in an electric discharge are monitored with broadband rotational spectroscopy, and the products are studied in the context of astrochemistry. Because of advancements in high-speed digital signal processing with increased data throughput, astrochemistry, as a field, is currently experiencing an emerging synergy between broadband laboratory spectra and broadband radio astronomical survey spectra. The availability of high quality radio astronomy survey spectra is expected to dramatically increase in the coming years, which in turn should provide the impetus for moving beyond the traditional "targeted search" model and instead focus on "reaction product screening". Since the two techniques characterize molecules in the same fashion, by their rotational spectra, directly comparing both types of broadband spectra may lead to a better understanding of the complex chemistry that occurs in the interstellar medium. Also discussed in this thesis is the development of two new CP-FTMW spectrometers operating in frequency ranges that are compatible with molecules of astronomical interest.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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