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History of trace gases in presolar diamonds inferred from ion-implantation experiments


Diamond grains are the most abundant presolar grains found in primitive meteorites1,2,3. They formed before the Solar System, and therefore provide a record of nuclear and chemical processes in stars and in the interstellar medium1,2,3. Their origins are inferred from the unusual isotopic compositions of trace elements—mainly xenon1,2,3,4—which suggest that they came from supernovae. But the exact nature of the sources has been enigmatic, as has the method by which noble gases were incorporated into the grains. One observation is that different isotopic components are released at different temperatures when the grains are heated, and it has been suggested that these components have different origins. Here we report results of a laboratory study that shows that ion implantation (previously suggested on other grounds5,6) is a viable mechanism for trapping noble gases. Moreover, we find that ion implantation of a single isotopic composition can produce both low- and high-temperature release peaks from the same grains. We conclude that both isotopically normal and anomalous gases may have been implanted by multiple events separated in space and/or time, with thermal processing producing an apparent enrichment of the anomalous component in the high-temperature release peak. The previous assumption that the low- and high-temperature components were not correlated may therefore have led to an overestimate of the abundance of anomalous argon and krypton, while obscuring an enhancement of the light—in addition to the heavy—krypton isotopes.

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Figure 1: Thermal release patterns of noble gases from diamonds.
Figure 2: Thermal release and isotopic variation of implanted Ar, Kr and Xe.


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We thank S. Herrmann for assisting with the noble-gas measurements, G.R. Huss and A.B. Verchovsky for discussions, and R.S. Lewis and A.P. Meshik for comments on the manuscript. This work was partially supported by the Russian Foundation of Basic Science and by the German DFG.

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Koscheev, A., Gromov, M., Mohapatra, R. et al. History of trace gases in presolar diamonds inferred from ion-implantation experiments. Nature 412, 615–617 (2001).

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