Isotopic Fractionation of 20Ne, 21Ne, and 22Ne in a Simulated Thermal Gradient

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Blaine Jester and Gerardo Dominguez, California State University San Marcos, San Marcos, CA, United States
Computer simulations allow for the analysis of the thermodynamic properties of systems which are difficult or impossible to do experimentally. Isotopic fractionation in thermal gradients is an example of a system which is not fully understood but could provide background for understanding variations in fractionations like those observed for noble gases in terrestrial and extraterrestrial material. Using a recently developed molecular dynamics simulation focused on the accuracy of the simulated physics, the isotopic fractionation of Neon in a thermal gradient was analyzed in order to provide a correlation between the fractionation and the experimental system’s properties. Various ratios of isotopes 20Ne, 21Ne, and 22Ne were simulated in a thermal gradient ranging from 218 K to 233 K for a variety of time scales. Data was collected for various configurations including box sizes on the order of 1 nm to 100 μm. The simulated thermal conductivity was determined and compared with known values. The analysis indicates that the dimensions of the box heavily influence the magnitude of the isotopic fractionation in the thermal gradient.