Ph.D defense Dr. Daniël B. Rap
Ph.D defense Dr. Daniël B. Rap

PhD defence Daniël B. Rap: ‘Cosmic Chemistry of Complex Aromatic Molecules’

On April 23rd, PhD student Daniël B. Rap (FIS group) successfully defended his PhD thesis ‘Cosmic Chemistry of Complex Aromatic Molecules’. Congratulations dr. Rap! We will miss you!

Interstellar molecules

In his dissertation, Rap investigates the formation and destruction pathways of a specific class of important interstellar molecules: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These molecules were for a long time thought to be present in space based on astronomically observed infrared emission features. Only recently this could be confirmed when several smaller members of the PAH family were unambiguously identified in very cold regions of space using radio astronomy. However, their formation and destruction pathways in these astronomical environments are still far from understood.

Ph.D defense Dr. Daniël B. Rap

Pathways of PAHs

Using the intense, tunable infrared laser light from HFML-FELIX, Rap developed and used a combination of spectroscopic methods – which provide spectral fingerprints and are crucial in identifying interstellar molecules – with theoretical calculations and kinetic studies in a cryogenic ion trap setup to study potential formation and destruction pathways of PAHs in great detail. The cryogenic trap allowed him to simulate astronomical conditions, meaning he could operate at similarly low temperatures and low densities.

Ph.D defense Dr. Daniël B. Rap

Scientific journey

Rap began his scientific journey in 2013 as a student at the Radboud University, where he received a Master of Science in Chemistry with a specialization in Physical Chemistry. In 2019 he continued his scientific career at HFML-FELIX as a PhD student in the FELIX Infrared and THz Spectroscopy (FIS) research group.


Prof. dr. Britta Redlich
dr. Sandra Brünken

Contact information