Author(s): , , , , , ,
Institution(s): 1. Chalmers University of Technology, 2. The Open University, 3. University of Leeds, 4. University of Montpellier
Experimental studies on surface astrochemistry are vital to our understanding of chemical evolution in the interstellar medium (ISM). Laboratory surface-astrochemists have recently begun to study chemical reactions on interstellar dust-grain mimics, ranging from graphite, HOPG and graphene (representative of PAHs or large C-grains in the ISM) to amorphous olivine (representative of silicate dust) and ablated meteoritic samples (representative of interplanetary dust). These pioneering experiments show that the nature of the surface fundamentally affects processes at the substrate surface, substrate-ice interface, and ice over-layer. What these experiments are still lacking is the ability to account for effects arising from the discrete nano-scale of ISM grains, which might include changes to electronic structure, optical properties and surface-kinetics in comparison to bulk materials. The question arises: to what extent are the chemical and optical properties of interstellar ices affected by the size, morphology and material of the underlying ISM dust?
We have designed, fabricated and characterised a set of nano-structured surfaces, where nanoparticles, representative of ISM grains, are adhered to an underlying support substrate. Here we will show the nanoparticles that have been manufactured from fused-silica (FS), glassy carbon (GC) and amorphous-C (aC). Our optical characterisation data shows that the nanostructured surfaces have different absorption cross-sections and significant scattering in comparison to the support substrates, which has implications for the energetic processing of icy ISM dust. We have been able to study how water-ice growth differs on the nanoparticles in comparison to the “flat” substrates, indicating increased ice amorphicity when nanoparticles are present, and on C-rich surfaces, compared to Si-rich particles. These data will be discussed in the context of interstellar water-ice features.