On Friday, February 21st, a significantly updated version of the NASA Ames PAH IR Spectroscopic database was made public at www.astrochem.org/pahdb/. This is the largest collection of PAH spectra in the world and now contains 700 computational and 75 experimental spectra. The update includes a number of unusually large PAHs, the ability to visualize the molecular atomic motions corresponding to each vibrational mode, and a tool that allows one to analyze uploaded astronomical spectra. There is also a suite of offline software that significantly extends the online capabilities. Besides being of great interest to astronomers working with Spitzer, SOFIA, Herschel and JWST, the value of the database extends far beyond the immediate needs of NASA and astronomy. PAHs are nanoparticles with unusual properties, a major product of combustion, common in the environment and carcinogenic, therefore they are important to scientists, educators, policy makers, and consultants working in the fields of nanotechnology, medicine, health, chemistry, fuel composition, engine design, as well as environmental assessment and protection. The release coincided with the appearance of an article in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series and a press release describing the updated database, website and tools.
Over the last week the press release was posted on nearly 100 websites worldwide, including medicine and environmental sites. The tracker on the database website reports a quadrupling of the number of people that visited the website last week. The launch was also announced on social networking sites, including the “NASA Ames Lab Astro” Facebook page (273 “likes”) and on Twitter (@AmesLabAstro, 1,815 followers).