NanoFull is an ambitious interdisciplinary project to: i) understand the process of formation process of fullerene- and graphene-based molecular nanostructures in circumstellar envelopes through the decomposition of "natural" nanoparticles with aromatic and aliphatic composition; ii) detect other forms of carbon in space. Surprisingly, detections of the C60 fullerene and the flat C24 molecule (a small piece of graphene) in the hydrogen-rich circumstellar environments around old stars have shown that the formation of these complex molecules takes place in the presence of hydrogen. This together with the recent identification of ionized fullerenes (C60+) as responsible for some diffuse interstellar bands (the only molecule identified to date) reinforces the idea that these molecular nanostructures are abundant in the cosmos.
NanoFull aims to go beyond the state of the art by combining astronomical data, organic chemistry synthesis and high-level laboratory experiments. The use of novel laboratory techniques is proposed to synthesize new nanostructures based on fullerenes and to simulate the decomposition of nanoparticles into fullerenes and related species, which will undoubtedly lead to new discoveries in this unexplored field. NanoFull wants to consolidate this new field of interdisciplinary research that crosses the borders between astronomers, chemists and physicists, with potential applications in nanotechnology and industry.
Low- to intermediate-mass (M < 8 solar masses, Ms) stars represent the majority of stars in the Cosmos. They finish their lives on the Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) - just before they form planetary nebulae (PNe) - where they experience complex nucleosynthetic and molecular processes. AGB stars are important contributors to the enrichment of the