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Spectroscopic Investigation of the High-Pressure Behavior of Aliphatic Hydrocarbon: Implications for Planetary Processes...

by A. Basu, Mainak Mookherjee, Christina Schiffert, Bianca Haberl, Reinhard Boehler
Publication Type
Journal Name
ACS Earth and Space Chemistry
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1 to 8

Octadecane (C18H38) is an aliphatic hydrocarbon that is abundant in carbonaceous chondritic meteorites. It is debated whether these hydrocarbons found in the meteorite are pristine or are a result of subsequent modifications as these meteorites are delivered to the Earth. It is well-known that meteorites are often subjected to extreme pressures and temperatures upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere. To explore the behavior of octadecane at high pressures, that is, how its molecular structure responds to compression, we use a diamond anvil cell in conjunction with Raman spectroscopy. We find that at room temperatures, upon compression to ∼5 GPa, a linear-chain octadecane molecule transforms into a bent-chain configuration. Similar transitions from linear to a bent configuration in other hydrocarbons have been documented. We find a linear correlation between the transition pressure from linear to bent configuration, and the chain length of the alkane, that is, longer chain lengths, is likely to be less stable in the linear configuration under compression. These kinks in the bent-chain configuration are likely sites for the dissociation of the longer chain hydrocarbons to smaller hydrocarbons. The octadecane sample examined in this study did not undergo any additional transition to the highest pressure (∼18 GPa) explored in this study.