The University of Arizona

The use of Auger spectroscopy for the in situ elemental characterization of sub-micrometer presolar grains

F. J. STADERMANN, C. FLOSS, M. BOSE, A. S. LEA

Abstract


Presolar grains are small samples of stardust that can be found at low abundances in some of the most unaltered types of extraterrestrial materials. While earlier laboratory studies of stardust mainly focused on grain types that can be extracted from bulk meteorites by acid dissolution techniques, such as silicon carbide and graphite, recent analyses of presolar silicates rely on isotope imaging searches for locating these grains in situ. Since presolar silicates are generally less than a micrometer in diameter and represent at best only a few hundred ppm of their host materials (e.g., primitive meteorites or interplanetary dust particles), locating and studying these particles can be analytically challenging. Recently, we began using scanning Auger spectroscopy for the in situ elemental characterization of presolar silicate grains as a complement to NanoSIMS isotopic studies for obtaining spatially matched compositional data. Auger spectroscopy is a well-established analytical technique for elemental characterizations in the material sciences, but has not been widely used in geological applications. We discuss the application of this technique to sub-micrometer sized silicate grains and address practical issues such as sample preparation, measurement settings, spatial resolution, data processing, and elemental quantification.

Keywords


Auger Spectroscopy;Presolar grain(s);Mineral(s)

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