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Amorphous Mixtures of Ice and C60 Fullerene

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journal contribution
posted on 05.06.2020, 11:03 by Siriney O. Halukeerthi, Jacob J. Shephard, Sukhpreet K. Talewar, John S. O. Evans, Alexander Rosu-Finsen, Christoph G. Salzmann
Carbon and ice make up a substantial proportion of our universe. Recent space exploration has shown that these two chemical species often coexist such as on comets and asteroids and in the interstellar medium. Here, we prepare mixtures of C60 fullerene and H2O by vapor codeposition at 90 K with molar C60/H2O ratios ranging from 1:1254 to 1:5. The C60 percolation threshold is found between the 1:132 and 1:48 samples, corresponding to a transition from matrix-isolated C60 molecules to percolating C60 domains that confine H2O. Below this threshold, the crystallization and thermal desorption properties of H2O are not significantly affected by C60, whereas the crystallization temperature of H2O is shifted toward higher temperatures for the C60-rich samples. These C60-rich samples also display exotherms corresponding to the crystallization of C60 as the two components undergo phase separation. More than 60 vol % C60 is required to significantly affect the desorption properties of H2O. A thick blanket of C60 on top of pure amorphous ice is found to display large cracks due to water desorption. These findings may help us to understand the recently observed unusual surface features and the H2O weather cycle on the 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko comet.