Measurements of Diffusion of Volatiles in Amorphous Solid Water: Application to Interstellar Medium Environments

Jiao He, S. M. Emtiaz, Gianfranco Vidali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The diffusion of atoms and molecules in ices covering dust grains in dense clouds in interstellar space is an important but poorly characterized step in the formation of complex molecules in space. Here we report the measurement of diffusion of simple molecules in amorphous solid water (ASW), an analog of interstellar ices, which are amorphous and made mostly of water molecules. The new approach that we used relies on measuring, in situ, the change in band strength and position of mid-infrared features of OH dangling bonds as molecules move through pores and channels of ASW. We obtained the Arrhenius pre-exponents and activation energies for diffusion of CO, O2, N2, CH4, and Ar in ASW. The diffusion energy barrier of H2 and D2 were also measured, but only upper limits were obtained. These values constitute the first comprehensive set of diffusion parameters of simple molecules on the pore surface of ASW and can be used in simulations of the chemical evolution of Interstellar Medium environments, thus replacing unsupported estimates. We also present a set of argon temperature programmed desorption experiments to determine the desorption energy distribution of argon on non-porous ASW.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number156
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 20 2018


  • ISM: atoms
  • ISM: molecules
  • astrochemistry
  • methods: laboratory: atomic
  • methods: laboratory: solid state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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