Date of Award

December 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Gianfranco Vidali


Diffusion, Ices, ISM, Planets, Solid State, trans-Neptunian Objects

Subject Categories

Physical Sciences and Mathematics


In this thesis, I investigate the physical and chemical processes of simulated cosmic dust grainsand planetary surface analogues in laboratory experiments performed at the Syracuse University Astrophysics and Surface Science Laboratory. I have studied the mid-infrared (Mid-IR) bands of thin films of pure CH4 ices and of CH4 ices mixed with N2 and H2O in order to characterize the thermal evolution of ices in confined geometry and to improve the understanding of observations of ices present in interstellar space and in outer solar system bodies. Furthermore, I studied the self-diffusion of CO2 isotopes in different thin-film arrangements. Mid-IR laboratory data of the morphological change of CH4, CH4-volatile mixture, and CO2 during thermal processing will become a crucial component to analyze the data of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) that is scheduled to be launched in 2021. The experimental data presented in Chapters 3, 4, and 5 fill the void of the experimental data on CH4 ice to successfully interpret the remote sensing data obtained from spacecraft and ground-based observations. The study of diffusion of isotopes of CO2 using IR features due to resonant coupling in the solid is presented in Chapter 6. It is the first experimental study of self-diffusion in CO2 thin films and also the first study of using this method in thin films.


Open Access