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- Shortly after the NASA Genesis Mission sample return capsule returned to earth on September 8, 2004, the science team discovered that all nine ultra-pure semiconductor materials were contaminated with a thin molecular organic film approximately 0 to 100 angstroms thick. The organic contaminate layer, possibly a silicone, situated on the surface of the materials is speculated to have formed by condensation of organic matter from spacecraft off-gassing at the Lagrange 1 halo orbit during times of solar exposure. While the valuable solar wind atoms are safely secured directly below this organic contamination and/or native oxide layer in approximately the first 1000 angstroms of the ultra-pure material substrate, some analytical techniques that precisely measure solar wind elemental abundances require the removal of this organic contaminate. In 2005, Genesis science team laboratories began to develop various methods for removing the organic thin film without removing the precious material substrate that contained the solar wind atoms. Stephen Sestak and colleagues at Open University first experimented with ultraviolet radiation ozone (UV/O3) cleaning of several non-flight and flown Genesis silicon wafer fragments under a pure flowing oxygen environment. The UV/O3 technique was able to successfully remove organic contamination without etching into the bulk material substrate. At NASA Johnson Space Center Genesis Curation Laboratory, we have installed an UV/O3 cleaning devise in an ambient air environment to further experimentally test the removal of the organic contamination on Genesis wafer materials. Preliminary results from XPS analysis show that the UV/O3 cleaning instrument is a good non-destructive method for removing carbon contamination from flown Genesis array samples. However, spectroscopic ellipsometry results show little change in the thickness of the surface film. All experiments to date have shown UV/O3 cleaning method to be the best non-destructive method for removing organic contamination from the surface of the Genesis materials. The UV/O3 cleaning process can also clean carbon contamination to levels below non-flight standards. This can be seen by comparing sample 60260's carbon 10667 cps with non-flight Si carbon 21675 cps. Therefore, surface carbon contamination should not hinder the analysis of solar wind.
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- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20070003746.
Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 12-16 Mar. 2007; Houston, TX; United States.
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