Atomic Force Microscopy Identifying Fuel Pyrolysis Products and Directing the Synthesis of Analytical Standards

Shadi Fatayer, Nimesh B. Poddar, Sabela Quiroga, Fabian Schulz, Bruno Schuler, Subramanian V. Kalpathy, Gerhard Meyer, Dolores Pérez, Enrique Guitián, Diego Peña, Mary J. Wornat, Leo Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Here we present a new method that integrates atomic force microscopy (AFM) with analytical tools such as high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with diode-array ultraviolet-visible (UV) absorbance, and mass spectrometry (MS) along with synthetic chemistry. This allows the detection, identification, and quantification of novel polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in complex molecular mixtures. This multidisciplinary methodology is employed to characterize the supercritical pyrolysis products of n-decane, a model fuel. The pyrolysis experiments result in a complex mixture of both unsubstituted as well as highly methylated PAH. We demonstrate the AFM-driven discovery of a novel compound, benz[l]indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene, with the chemical structure assignment serving as input for the chemical synthesis of such molecule. The synthesis is verified by AFM, and the synthesized compound is used as a reference standard in analytical measurements, establishing the first-ever unequivocal identification and quantification of this PAH as a fuel product. Moreover, the high-resolution AFM analysis detected several five- to eight-ring PAH, which represents novel fuel pyrolysis and/or combustion products. This work provides a route to develop new analytical standards by symbiotically using AFM, chemical synthesis, and modern analytical tools.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8156-8161
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jul 5 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2022-09-13

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Catalysis


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