IRAP > Observations > Laboratory experiments > Plateforme Nanograins > NANOCOSMOS / PIRENEA2 and AROMA



The ERC Synergy Nanocosmos project "Gas and dust from stars to the laboratory: exploring the Nanocosmos" aims to understand the processes that govern the formation and evolution of cosmic dust by combining new observational strategies, the development of millimetric receptors, innovative laboratory simulation chambers and astrophysical models. The project, which is led by J. Cernicharo and J. A. Martín-Gago (CSIC-ICMMM, Madrid) and C. Joblin (IRAP/CNRS), has received European support (Europe FP7, 2014-2020; overall budget: €15 million, including €4 million at CNRS). On the Toulouse campus, it involves researchers from IRAP/MICMAC and Toulouse physicists and physicochemists at IRSAMC (LCAR and LCPQ) and LAPLACE.
The IRAP/CNRS team is committed to developing two new experimental devices for Nanocosmos: the Molecular Analyzer (AROMA: Astrochemistry Research Organics Molecular Analyser) to study the molecular content of cosmic grain analogues and a new generation instrument PIRENEA2 (Ion Trap for the Research and Study of New Astrochemical Species, second generation instrument) to study gasnanograins interactions under cosmic conditions. AROMA was built by the Greek company Fasmatech. The second system is entirely developed by the IRAP team. It was not possible to install the new Nanocosmos devices on the Nanograins platform (see sheet). An agreement was therefore signed with LCAR-IRSAMC where space was available. This also allows to benefit from scientific and technical interactions on this site specialized in experimental physics.


General view of the PIRENEA set-up


View of the ion trap and internal cryogenic shield


Objectives : Determine the properties of inter and circumstellar dusts including PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and develop laboratory astrophysics in relation to ground and space observations (IR and millimetric: Spitzer, Herschel, Planck, IRAM, ALMA, VLT, JWST, SPICA...)

Research Group : MICMAC

  • Scientific Responsibles : Christine Joblin (DR CNRS),  Hassan Sabbah (MdC UPS)
  • Technical Manager : Anthony Bonnamy (IR, CNRS-OMP)

Technical involvement

The AROMA system is currently in the scientific exploitation phase. The technical developments concern a laser imaging source for the analysis of samples on a micrometer scale (meteorites).
The team is in charge of the design and development of the new PIRENEA 2 device dedicated to the study of gas-nanogram interactions at low temperatures (4-300K). It includes a FT-ICR-MS device consisting of a cryogenic ion cyclotron resonance cell in the centre of a superconducting magnet, a sensitive electronics for ion detection, a cryogenic RF quadrupole for thermalisation of nanograins as well as atomic and molecular aggregate sources and optical interfaces (lasers, Xe arc lamp).

Objectives and Planning

Assembly of the FT-ICR part of PIRENEA 2.

  • Integration of a cryogenic (electronic) preamplifier for ion detection.
  • Instrumental characterization of the cryogenic FT-ICR.
  • Realization of electronic interfaces for radio frequency power supplies.
  • Optimization of the data acquisition and processing software.
  • Integration of a quadrupole RF cryogenic trap.
  • Construction and commissioning of ion sources and aggregates.
  • Installation of the entire PIRENEA system chain 2.
  • Development of the experimental database for AROMA and PIRENEA 2.
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