Isotopic compositions, nitrogen functional chemistry, and low‐loss electron spectroscopy of complex organic aggregates at the nanometer scale in the carbonaceous chondrite RenazzoOPEN ACCESS 

Christian Vollmer, Jan Leitner, Demie Kepaptsoglou, Quentin M. Ramasse, Henner Busemann, Peter Hoppe

Meteoritics & Planetary Science
First published: 10 October 2019


“Organic matter (OM) was widespread in the early solar nebula and might have played an important role for the delivery of prebiotic molecules to the early Earth. We investigated the textures, isotopic compositions, and functional chemistries of organic grains in the Renazzo carbonaceous chondrite by combined high spatial resolution techniques (electron microscopy–secondary ion mass spectrometry). Morphologies are complex on a submicrometer scale, and some organics exhibit a distinct texture with alternating layers of OM and minerals. These layered organics are also characterized by heterogeneous 15N isotopic abundances. Functional chemistry investigations of five focused ion beam‐extracted lamellae by electron energy loss spectroscopy reveal a chemical complexity on a nanometer scale. Grains show absorption at the C‐K edge at 285, 286.6, 287, and 288.6 eV due to polyaromatic hydrocarbons, different carbon‐oxygen, and aliphatic bonding environments with varying intensity. The nitrogen K‐edge functional chemistry of three grains is shown to be highly complex, and we see indications of amine (C‐NHx) or amide (CO‐NR2) chemistry as well as possible N‐heterocycles and nitro groups. We also performed low‐loss vibrational spectroscopy with high energy resolution and identified possible D‐ and G‐bands known from Raman spectroscopy and/or absorption from C=C and C‐O stretch modes known from infrared spectroscopy at around 0.17 and 0.2 eV energy loss. The observation of multiglobular layered organic aggregates, heterogeneous 15N‐anomalous compositions, and indication of NHx‐(amine) functional chemistry lends support to recent ideas that 15N‐enriched ammonia (NH3) was a powerful agent to synthesize more complex organics in aqueous asteroidal environments.”