Laboratory measurement of volatile ice vapor pressures with a quartz crystal microbalance

W. M. Grundy, S. C. Tegler, J. K. Steckloff, S. P. Tan, M. J. Loeffler, A. V. Jasko, K. J. Koga, B. P. Blakley, S. M. Raposa, A. E. Engle, C. L. Thieberger, J. Hanley, G. E. Lindberg, M. D. Gomez, A. O. Madden-Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and methane are key materials in the far outer Solar System where their high volatility enables them to sublimate, potentially driving activity at very low temperatures. Knowledge of their vapor pressures and latent heats of sublimation at relevant temperatures is needed to model the processes involved. We describe a method for using a quartz crystal microbalance to measure the sublimation flux of these volatile ices in the free molecular flow regime, accounting for the simultaneous sublimation from and condensation onto the quartz crystal to derive vapor pressures and latent heats of sublimation. We find vapor pressures to be somewhat lower than previous estimates in literature, with carbon monoxide being the most discrepant of the three species, almost an order of magnitude lower than had been thought. These results have important implications across a variety of astrophysical and planetary environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115767
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024


  • Comets
  • Experimental techniques
  • Ices
  • Planetesimals
  • Trans-neptunian objects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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