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Behavior of Long-Chain Hydrocarbons at High Pressures and Temperatures...

by A. Basu, Mainak Mookherjee, Ericka Mcmahan, Bianca Haberl, Reinhard Boehler
Publication Type
Journal Name
The Journal of Physical Chemistry B
Publication Date
Page Numbers
2530 to 2537

Although long-chain aliphatic hydrocarbons are documented in meteorites, their origin is poorly understood. A key question is whether they are pristine or a byproduct of terrestrial alteration? To understand if these long-chain hydrocarbons are indigenous, it will be important to explore their thermodynamic and mechanical stability at conditions experienced by extraterrestrial objects during atmospheric entry and passage. Extreme pressures and temperatures experienced by meteorites are likely to alter the molecular organization of these long-chain hydrocarbons. These structural changes associated with extreme conditions are often documented via laboratory-based Raman spectroscopic measurements. So far, Raman spectroscopic measurements have investigated the effect of static compression on the aliphatic hydrocarbons. The effect of temperature on the structural changes remains poorly explored. To bridge this gap, in this study, we have explored the behavior of two aliphatic hydrocarbons at simultaneously high pressures and temperatures. We have used a resistively heated diamond anvil cell. On compression to moderate pressures, the appearance of new vibrational modes in the low-energy region confirms prior studies and is related to the bending of the linear chains. Upon heating to ∼220 °C, we note that the new low-energy mode undergoes softening. The mode softening is likely due to the combination of unbending of the alkane chain and mode anharmonicity.