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Nanodeformation in enstatite single crystals: Simulation of micrometeoroid impacts by femtosecond pulsed laser experiments

: Schmidt, D.; Pollok, K.; Matthäus, G.; Nolte, S.; Langenhorst, F.


Chemie der Erde = Geochemistry 79 (2019), Nr.4, Art. 125542
ISSN: 0009-2819
Fraunhofer IOF ()

Space weathering by micrometeoroid bombardment is a cosmic phenomenon on atmosphere-free celestial bodies, a process that is expected to particularly overprint planetesimals and cosmic dust in debris discs. We reproduced micrometeoroid impact craters by femtosecond pulsed laser irradiation on oriented enstatite single crystals (En93Fs7) to investigate the deformation behavior and its orientation dependence. All microcraters show typical bowl shaped morphologies, a glass surface layer with splash like ejecta material and subsurface layering. Although we could reproduce melting and vaporization as typical space weathering effects in the enstatite experiments, there is no formation of agglutinate particles or metallic nanoparticles (npFe0). The shock effects in the deformation layer consist of planar structures like microfractures and cleavages, amorphous lamellae, stacking faults and clinoenstatite lamellae. Their activation and/or orientation depends on the shock direction. In special orientations we observe the activation of glide systems along specific low indexed crystallographic planes. Due to the short timescale and the high strain rates, the most prominent effect is the failure of enstatite by microfracturing along non-rational crystallographic planes. Common deformation mechanisms reported in meteorites like the formation of clinoenstatite lamellae via shearing along [001] (100) occur less frequently. Shear is apparently the dominant mechanism in the formation of the above-mentioned effects and causes also their modification by frictional heating. The wide-spread formation of amorphous lamellae is, for example, interpreted to be the result of this shear heating along planar structures. We interpret this unconventional deformation behavior as a consequence of the small spatial and temporal scale of the experiments, resulting in a short-lived spherical shock wave with high deviatoric stresses in contrast to a long pressure pulse and quasi-hydrostatic compression in large scale impacts that produce typical shock features.