Simulating the diffusion of hydrogen in amorphous silicates: A ‘jumping’ migration process and its implications for solar wind implanted lunar volatiles

1,2Liam S.Morrissey,3D.Pratt,1W.M.Farrell,1O.J.Tucker,3S.Nakhla,1R.M.Killen
Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2022.114979]
1NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 20771 Greenbelt, MD, United States
2Catholic University /CRESST II, Washington, DC 20005, United States
3Department of Mechanical Engineering, Memorial University of Newfoundland, A1C 5S7 St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
Copyright Elsevier

We use molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to better explain the movement of atomic hydrogen in amorphous silica and quantify the planetary science implications of these findings. Previous MD simulations had a large range of predicted values and did not agree well with experiment. Our simulations sample atomic motion for a longer duration and consider a wider range of temperatures than previous simulations. In contrast to constant atomic motion, the hydrogen atoms were shown to undergo random intermittent jumps from one oxygen atom to another, the number of which increase with temperature. Predicted diffusion coefficients had a better agreement to experimental values than previous MD simulations, suggesting the importance of longer simulation durations for better statistics. The low activation energy and jumps observed at lunar temperatures do not support the theory of diurnal variations in OH content for an undamaged amorphous silica surface. Instead, we conclude that energetic solar wind impacts can induce two competing atomic hydrogen motion processes in the exposed surface: A prompt effect that induces jumps in the temperature spike volume, but also a long-term effect of damage in the structure that traps atomic hydrogen. We then use SDTrimSP to quantify the damage created during exposure and MD to demonstrate the H retention and trapping near these defects. Damage was shown to be dependent on impact energy, with defects easily retaining implanted hydrogen. MD results like those presented herein on unweathered surfaces are therefore most relevant to magnetic anomalies. As a result, we demonstrate the importance of lunar volatile models to account for the damage state of the substrate when modelling hydrogen diffusion, retention, and subsequent OH/water production.

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