The sputtering of radiolytic O2 in ion irradiated H2O-ice

Patrick D. Tribbett, Mark J. Loeffler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Charged particle bombardment alters the physical and chemical properties of extraterrestrial icy surfaces by simultaneously producing radiolytic products and sputtered material. To better understand these phenomena, we measure the total sputtering yield of H2O-ice induced by 0.5–5 keV Ar+ at temperatures between 40 and 120 K, using microbalance gravimetry as our analytical tool. In addition, we also estimate the sputtered flux of radiolytic products formed during irradiation and in both cases find good agreement with comparable laboratory studies. At 120 K, we find that the O2/H2O sputtered ratio increases nearly linearly with the ion range suggesting that the ions are stopping at depths where O2 is still efficiently being produced below the surface. Furthermore, we find that although theoretical models appear to over predict our O2 sputtering yields by about a factor of three, we can make a small adjustment to this model, which improves the agreement between the model and the laboratory data significantly. This empirical adjustment may have implications for models of energetic processing that occurs on extraterrestrial icy surfaces, such as Europa, where low-energy ions are thought to be the primary source producing O2 from sputtering of the surface H2O-ice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number121797
JournalSurface Science
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Europa
  • Low energy ions
  • Radiolysis
  • Sputtering
  • Water ice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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