Origins of meteoritic nanodiamonds investigated by coordinated atom‐probe tomography and transmission electron microscopy studies

1Josiah B. Lewis,1Christine Floss,2Dieter Isheim,1,3Tyrone L. Daulton,2David N. Seidman,1Ryan Ogliore
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1111/maps.13373]
1Laboratory for Space Sciences, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, 63130 USA
2Northwestern University Center for Atom‐Probe Tomography, Evanston, IL, 60208 USA
3Institute for Materials Science and Engineering, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, 63130 USA
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

To constrain the origins of meteoritic nanodiamonds, the abundance ratios of stable C isotopes in acid residues from the carbonaceous chondritic meteorite Allende CV3 were measured using coordinated atom‐probe tomography (APT) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). We combined our data with previously published APT data. A statistical analysis of this combined data set suggests an upper bound of 1 in 102 on the subpopulation that could have a large isotopic enrichment in 13C relative to 12C, consistent with the possible detection by secondary ion mass spectrometry of a similar enrichment in a 1 in 105 fraction, abundant enough to account for the Xe‐HL anomalous isotopic component carried by the acid residues. Supernovae are believed to be the source of Xe‐HL, leading to the mystery of why all other supernova minerals do not carry Xe‐HL. The lack of Xe‐HL in low‐density disordered supernova graphite suggests that the isotopically anomalous component is the nanodiamonds, but the disordered C in the residue is not ruled out. We discuss possible origins of the disordered C and implications of our results for proposed formation scenarios for nanodiamonds. At least 99% of the meteoritic acid residue exhibits no unambiguous evidence of presolar formation, although production with solar isotope ratios in asymptotic giant branch stars is not ruled out. Comparison of TEM and APT results indicates that a minority of the APT reconstructions may preferentially sample disordered C rather than nanodiamonds. If this is the case, a presolar origin for a larger fraction of the nanodiamonds remains possible.

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