Surface and Internal Structure of Pristine Presolar Silicon CarbideSilicon carbide is the most well-studied type of presolar grain. Isotope measurements of thousands [1,2] and structural data from over 500 individual grains have been reported . The isotope data indicate that approximately 98% originated in asymptotic giant branch stars and 2% in supernovae. Although tens of different polytypes of SiC are known to form synthetically, only two polytypes have been reported for presolar grains. Daulton et al.  found that for SiC grains isolated from Murchison by acid treatments, 79.4% are 3C cubic beta-SiC, 2.7% are 2H hexagonal alpha-SiC, 17.1% are intergrowths of and , and 0.9% are heavily disordered. They report that the occurrence of only the and polytypes is consistent with the observed range of condensation temperatures of circumstellar dust for carbon stars. Further constraint on the formation and subsequent alteration of the grains can be obtained from studies of the surfaces and interior structure of grains in pristine form, i.e., prepared without acid treatments [4,5]. The acid treatments remove surface coatings, produce etch pits around defect sites and could remove some subgrains. Surface oxides have been predicted by theoretical modeling as a survival mechanism for SiC grains exposed to the hot oxidizing solar nebula . Scanning electron microscopy studies of pristine SiC shows some evidence for the existence of oxide and organic coatings . We report herein on transmission electron microscopy studies of the surface and internal structure of two pristine SiC grains, including definitive evidence of an oxide rim on one grain, and the presence of internal TiC and AlN grains.
Stroud, Rhonda, M. (Naval Research Lab. Washington, DC, United States)
Bernatowicz, Thomas J. (Washington Univ. Saint Louis, MO, United States)
September 7, 2013
January 1, 2005
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVI, Part 18