XPS chemical analysis of tholins: the oxygen contamination

Abstract : In Titan's atmosphere, solid organic aerosols are initiated in the upper atmosphere by the photo-dissociation and photo-ionization of N2 and CH4. In order to simulate this complex chemistry several experimental setups have been built, among them plasma experiments. The aerosol analogues produced in such plasma discharges contain oxygen, as a few percents of the elemental composition, despite the absence of oxygen source in the reactive medium [1]. The present study aims at studying the origin of such systematic oxygen incorporation in tholins. A low pressure (0.9mbar) RF CCP discharge is used described in [2]. Gas mixtures of N2 and CH4 (from 1 to 10% of CH4) are injected continuously. The plasma discharge leads to the production of analogues of Titan's atmospheric aerosols: both as grains in the volume [1] and as thin films on the surface of the reactor [3]. SiO2 substrates of 1cm diameter and 1mm thickness are placed on the grounded electrode of the discharge. Organic films are deposited during 2 hours in order to have films thickness less than 1μm. After the two hours, samples are recovered at ambient air for ex-situ analysis. Two complementary analyses are performed to analyse the thin film chemical composition: XPS and SIMS, in order to probe both the surface and depth profile. References [1] Sciamma-O'brien E., Carrasco N., Szopa C., Buch A., Cernogora G. Icarus 209, 2 (2010) 704-714 [2] Alcouffe G., Cavarroc M., Cernogora G., Ouni F., Jolly A., Boufendi L., Szopa C. Plasma Sources Science and Technology 19, 1 (2010) 015008 (11pp) [3] Mahjoub A., Carrasco N., Dahoo P.-R., Gautier T., Szopa C., Cernogora G. Icarus 221, 2 (2012) 670-677.
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Nathalie Carrasco, François Jomard, Jackie Vigneron, Guy Cernogora. XPS chemical analysis of tholins: the oxygen contamination. American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2013, Dec 2013, San Francisco, United States. pp.1873. ⟨hal-00954726⟩

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