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Dissociation of CH4 at High Pressures and Temperatures: Diamond Formation in Giant Planet Interiors?

Science  01 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5437, pp. 100-102
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5437.100

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Abstract

Experiments using laser-heated diamond anvil cells show that methane (CH4) breaks down to form diamond at pressures between 10 and 50 gigapascals and temperatures of about 2000 to 3000 kelvin. Infrared absorption and Raman spectroscopy, along with x-ray diffraction, indicate the presence of polymeric hydrocarbons in addition to the diamond, which is in agreement with theoretical predictions. Dissociation of CH4 at high pressures and temperatures can influence the energy budgets of planets containing substantial amounts of CH4, water, and ammonia, such as Uranus and Neptune.

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