Dust as interstellar catalyst: I. Quantifying the chemical desorption process

M. Minissale, Francois Dulieu, S. Cazaux, S. Hocuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

135 Citations (Scopus)


Context. The presence of dust in the interstellar medium has profound consequences on the chemical composition of regions where stars are forming. Recent observations show that many species formed onto dust are populating the gas phase, especially in cold environments where UV- and cosmic-ray-induced photons do not account for such processes. Aims. The aim of this paper is to understand and quantify the process that releases solid species into the gas phase, the so-called chemical desorption process, so that an explicit formula can be derived that can be included in astrochemical models. Methods. We present a collection of experimental results of more than ten reactive systems. For each reaction, different substrates such as oxidized graphite and compact amorphous water ice were used. We derived a formula for reproducing the efficiencies of the chemical desorption process that considers the equipartition of the energy of newly formed products, followed by classical bounce on the surface. In part II of this study we extend these results to astrophysical conditions. Results. The equipartition of energy correctly describes the chemical desorption process on bare surfaces. On icy surfaces, the chemical desorption process is much less efficient, and a better description of the interaction with the surface is still needed. Conclusions. We show that the mechanism that directly transforms solid species into gas phase species is efficient for many reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA24
Number of pages6
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrochemistry
  • ISM: abundances
  • ISM: molecules
  • Molecular processes
  • Solid state: refractory
  • Solid state: volatile

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