Author: R. J. Peláez et al.
Plasma Sources Sci. Technol. 2018
Interstellar (IS) dust analogs, based on amorphous hydrogenated carbon (a-C:H) were generated by plasma deposition in radio frequency discharges of CH4 + He mixtures. The a-C:H samples were characterized by means of secondary electron microscopy, infrared (IR) spectroscopy and UV-visible reflectivity. DFT calculations of structure and IR spectra were also carried out. From the experimental data, atomic compositions were estimated. Both IR and reflectivity measurements led to similar high proportions (≈50%) of H atoms, but there was a significant discrepancy in the sp2/sp3hybridization ratios of C atoms (sp2/sp3 = 1.5 from IR and 0.25 from reflectivity). Energetic processing of the samples with 5 keV electrons led to a decay of IR aliphatic bands and to a growth of aromatic bands, which is consistent with a dehydrogenation and graphitization of the samples. The decay of the CH aliphatic stretching band at 3.4 μm upon electron irradiation is relatively slow. Estimates based on the absorbed energy and on models of cosmic ray (CR) flux indicate that CR bombardment is not enough to justify the observed disappearance of this band in dense IS clouds.