In this work, we present the application of ultra-short laser pulses as a tool to reproduce space weathering, with focus on micrometeoroid impacts. In our experiments, slices of single-crystal olivine were irradiated under vacuum condition using 100 fs single-shot laser pulses. In order to perform spectral measurements, the laser-damaged regions were distributed over the sample surface within a grid geometry. After laser processing, a comprehensive study was performed by using spectroscopic measurements in the NUV-vis-NIR range, white light interferometry, SEM and TEM analysis. The cross-sections of the laser-generated craters reveal different layers including from the top to the bottom: an amorphous layer, two polycrystalline layers with different textures, and a defect-rich olivine substrate. Moreover, iron nanoparticles occur within the lower part of the amorphous layer and the polycrystalline layer. We can reproduce microcraters whose morphology, microstructure, and distribution of iron nanoparticles are similar to those found in the soil samples of the Moon or of the asteroid 25143 Itokawa.
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Agnese Fazio, Gabor Matthäus, Dennis Harries, Harald Mutschke, Stefan Nolte, Falko Langenhorst, "Reproducing space weathering of olivine by using high-energy femtosecond laser pulses," Proc. SPIE 10094, Frontiers in Ultrafast Optics: Biomedical, Scientific, and Industrial Applications XVII, 100941D (17 February 2017);