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Quantum Tunneling of Oxygen Atoms on Very Cold Surfaces

By M. Minissale, E. Congiu, S. Baouche, H. Chaabouni, A. Moudens, F. Dulieu, M. Accolla, S. Cazaux, G. Manico and V. Pirronello

Abstract

<p>Any evolving system can change state via thermal mechanisms (hopping a barrier) or via quantum tunneling. Most of the time, efficient classical mechanisms dominate at high temperatures. This is why an increase of the temperature can initiate the chemistry. We present here an experimental investigation of O-atom diffusion and reactivity on water ice. We explore the 6-25 K temperature range at submonolayer surface coverages. We derive the diffusion temperature law and observe the transition from quantum to classical diffusion. Despite the high mass of O, quantum tunneling is efficient even at 6 K. As a consequence, the solid-state astrochemistry of cold regions should be reconsidered and should include the possibility of forming larger organic molecules than previously expected.</p>

Topics: AMORPHOUS SOLID WATER, INTERSTELLAR GRAINS; NASCENT H-2; DUST GRAINS; TEMPERATURE; DIFFUSION; HYDROGEN; OZONE; MECHANISM; MOBILITY
Year: 2013
DOI identifier: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.111.053201
OAI identifier: oai:pure.rug.nl:publications/6ba18789-e9fb-4291-b3a0-458a853e7283
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