Coordinated EDX and micro-Raman analysis of presolar silicon carbide: A novel, nondestructive method to identify rare subgroup SiC

Liu, N., Steele, A., Nittler, L. R., Stroud, R. M., De Gregorio, B. T., Alexander, C. M. O’D. and Wang, J.

Meteoritics & Planetary Science. doi: 10.1111/maps.12954

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“We report the development of a novel method to nondestructively identify presolar silicon carbide (SiC) grains with high initial 26Al/27Al ratios (>0.01) and extreme 13C-enrichments (12C/13C ≤ 10) by backscattered electron-energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) and micro-Raman analyses. Our survey of a large number of presolar SiC demonstrates that (1) ~80% of core-collapse supernova and putative nova SiC can be identified by quantitative EDX and Raman analyses with >70% confidence; (2) ~90% of presolar SiC are predominantly 3C-SiC, as indicated by their Raman transverse optical (TO) peak position and width; (3) presolar 3C-SiC with 12C/13C ≤ 10 show lower Raman TO phonon frequencies compared to mainstream 3C-SiC. The downward shifted phonon frequencies of the 13C-enriched SiC with concomitant peak broadening are a natural consequence of isotope substitution. 13C-enriched SiC can therefore be identified by micro-Raman analysis; (4) larger shifts in the Raman TO peak position and width indicate deviations from the ideal 3C structure, including rare polytypes. Coordinated transmission electron microscopy analysis of one X and one mainstream SiC grain found them to be of 6H and 15R polytypes, respectively; (5) our correlated Raman and NanoSIMS study of mainstream SiC shows that high nitrogen content is a dominant factor in causing mainstream SiC Raman peak broadening without significant peak shifts; and (6) we found that the SiC condensation conditions in different stellar sites are astonishingly similar, except for X grains, which often condensed more rapidly and at higher atmospheric densities and temperatures, resulting in a higher fraction of grains with much downward shifted and broadened Raman TO peaks”