Mineral Membranes for Prebiotic Chemistry

  • Author: Chemistry – A European Journal
  • Published Date: 24 April 2019
  • Source / Publisher: Chemistry – A European Journal/Wiley-VCH
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
thumbnail image: Mineral Membranes for Prebiotic Chemistry

Related Societies

Hydrothermal vents might have been the place where life on Earth began. Recreating the involved materials and conditions in the lab is key for testing this hypothesis. However, the number of parameters that need to be tested is large, which demands parallel approaches and the use of microscale volumes. At the vents, mineral precipitates would have formed inorganic membranes at the interface between the hydrothermal fluid and the ocean.

Oliver Steinbock, Florida State University, Tallahassee, USA, and colleagues tackled this challenge by using microfluidic devices (pictured). Within these devices, the team created mineral membranes from iron, calcium, manganese, cobalt, copper, zinc, or nickel compounds and tested them for prebiotic reactivity. Their focus was the formation of pyrophosphate from phosphate and acetyl phosphate, which might have been early life's energy carrier.

The yields of pyrophosphate were determined by aqueous 31P NMR spectroscopy. The team found that pyrophosphate forms in the porous mineral membranes. Iron(II) and calcium phosphate are the best catalysts for pyrophosphate synthesis, but iron(III) and green rust also promote the reaction. These findings demonstrate the usefulness of the microfluidic approach for the rapid screening of prebiotic conditions.


Article Views: 1607

Sign in Area

Please sign in below

Additional Sign In options

Please note that to comment on an article you must be registered and logged in.
Registration is for free, you may already be registered to receive, e.g., the newsletter. When you register on this website, please ensure you view our terms and conditions. All comments are subject to moderation.

Article Comments - To add a comment please sign in

If you would like to reuse any content, in print or online, from ChemistryViews.org, please contact us first for permission and consult our permission guidance prior to making your request

Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on YouTube Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Instagram RSS Sign up for newsletters

Magazine of Chemistry Europe (16 European Chemical Societies) published by Wiley-VCH