Reflectance spectra of the organic compounds comprising the alkane series are presented from the ultraviolet to midinfrared, 0.35 to 15.5 /??m. Alkanes are hydrocarbon molecules containing only single carbon-carbon bonds, and are found naturally on the Earth and in the atmospheres of the giant planets and Saturn's moon, Titan. This paper presents the spectral properties of the alkanes as the first in a series of papers to build a spectral database of organic compounds for use in remote sensing studies. Applications range from mapping the environment on the Earth, to the search for organic molecules and life in the solar system and throughout the. universe. We show that the spectral reflectance properties of organic compounds are rich, with major diagnostic spectral features throughout the spectral range studied. Little to no spectral change was observed as a function of temperature and only small shifts and changes in the width of absorption bands were observed between liquids and solids, making remote detection of spectral properties throughout the solar system simpler. Some high molecular weight organic compounds contain single-bonded carbon chains and have spectra similar to alkanes even ' when they fall into other families. Small spectral differences are often present allowing discrimination among some compounds, further illustrating the need to catalog spectral properties for accurate remote sensing identification with spectroscopy.
Additional publication details
Reflectance spectroscopy of organic compounds: 1. Alkanes