Formation of incipient soot particles from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: A ReaxFF molecular dynamics study

Qian Mao, Adri C.T. van Duin, K. H. Luo

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167 Scopus citations


In this study, we present the results from a series of ReaxFF molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to uncover the underlying mechanisms behind the nucleation and growth of incipient soot particles from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs, namely, naphthalene, anthracene, pyrene, coronene, ovalene and circumcoronene, are selected for ReaxFF MD simulations over a range of temperatures from 400 to 2500 K. Distinctive mechanisms of incipient soot formation are identified with respect to PAH mass and temperature. At low temperatures (e.g., 400 K), all types of the above PAHs can nucleate into incipient soot particles in stacked structures due to physical interactions. With the increase of temperature, the possibility of physical nucleation decreases for each PAH. At moderate temperatures (e.g., 1600 K), it becomes difficult for these PAH monomers, except circumcoronene grows into incipient soot particles. When the temperature increases to 2500 K, all the PAHs become chemically active, which not only leads to the formation of incipient soot particles but also takes the graphitization with the increase of the carbon-to-hydrogen (C/H) ratios in the particles. In addition to the formation of fullerene-like soot particles, stacked particles connected by ‘carbon bridges’ are also observed for large PAHs like coronene, ovalene and circumcoronene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-388
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Sep 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science


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