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The adsorption of helium or hydrogen on cationic triphenylene (TPL, C18H12), a planar polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) molecule, and of helium on cationic 1,3,5-triphenylbenzene (TPB, C24H18), a propeller-shaped PAH, is studied by a combination of high-resolution mass spectrometry and classical and quantum computational methods. Mass spectra indicate that HenTPL+ complexes are particularly stable if n = 2 or 6, in good agreement with the quantum calculations which show that for these sizes the helium atoms are strongly localized on either side of the central carbon ring for n = 2 and on either side of the three outer rings for n = 6. Theory suggests that He14TPL+ is also particularly stable, with the helium atoms strongly localized on either side of the central and outer rings plus the vacancies between the outer rings. For HenTPB+ the mass spectra hint at enhanced stability for n = 2, 4 and, possibly, 11. Here the agreement with theory is less satisfactory, probably because TPB+ is a highly fluxional molecule. In the global energy minimum, the phenyl groups are rotated in the same direction but when the zero-point harmonic correction is included, a structure with one phenyl group being rotated opposite to the other two becomes lower in energy. The energy barrier between the two isomers is very small, and TPB+ could be in a mixture of symmetric and antisymmetric states, or possibly even vibrationally delocalized.



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MDPI AG, Basel

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© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


This article belongs to the Special Issue Noble Gas Compounds and Chemistry II

This is an Open Access article published by MDPI in Molecules in 2022, available online: