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Organic Synthesis in Space Non-equilibrium Plasma


Physicochemical Modeling of Non-Equilibrium Organic Synthesis Processes in Interstellar Space by Use of Thermonuclear Investigation’s Instrumental Arsenal

Tech Area / Field

  • PHY-PLS/Plasma Physics/Physics
  • CHE-RAD/Photo and Radiation Chemistry/Chemistry
  • BIO-CHM/Biochemistry/Biotechnology

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Russian Academy of Sciences / A. N. Bach Institute of Biochemistry, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • St Petersburg State University / Institute of Physics, Russia, St Petersburg\nTRINITI, Russia, Moscow reg., Troitsk

Project summary

The project is targeted to the elucidation of a physicochemical mechanism of non-equilibrium processes proceeding in interstellar dust clouds which gives rise to organic matter. To experimentally model these processes we will use original methods of nuclear and thermonuclear physic, the shock waves-physics and photo-chemistry to the studies of the interstellar chemistry. The goal of project is to investigate the possibility of organic matter synthesis from simple gas molecules in the non-equilibrium processes proceeding on mineral particles within interstellar clouds of space dust and to determine its mechanism of formation. In modeling experiments a role of mineral matrix as well as the significance of various energy sources will be established. The data obtained will be applied to chemical description of dust grain particle as the site of organic matter evolution under the influence of a flow of high-energy charged particles, photons and the solid bodies impact interactions. It is planned that these experiments will bring new information on the synthesis and evolution of organic matter in the Universe. Such information is of significance for understanding the processes of the origin of life, in connection with a solution of the problems of planets, comets and meteorites formation. The following experiments are planned:

1. Modeling of the action of solar wind and cosmic rays on the space dust particles mimicked by accelerated protons. Investigation of chemical products formed from simple gas mixtures (H2O, CO, CO2, CH4, NH4, etc.) after their pre-adsorption on mineral (silica or metals oxides) matrixes and treatment with accelerated protons at low temperatures.

2. Experimental modeling of the action of shock waves, appearing in dense dust and gas clouds after the super novae blasts; investigation of chemical products emerging after the shock waves’ action mimicked by powerful laser action, mediated by an intermediate target, onto gas molecules frozen to or adsorbed on solid surface.
3. Investigation of chemical products formed after the action of UV-radiation on the gas molecules adsorbed on metals and silicon oxides by low temperatures as well as investigation of a possibility to produce polymers of amino acids and nucleoside phosphates largely under the influence of the UV-radiation on the adsorbed monomers.
4. Modeling of organic matter synthesis from simple gases or monomers going on in the process of planet, comet or meteorite formation driven by collisions of solid bodies and the investigation of formed products.

A solution of the tasks formulated above will be performed by a research team of various scientists. The team will include biochemists with a long standing experience in studies of the biopolymers’ formation on mineral surface (A.N. Bach Institute of Biochemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, abbreviated INBI); the experts in photo-chemistry of solid body surface (Department of Photonics, Institute of Physics, Saint-Petersburg University, abbreviated IOPh SPbU) and the investigators possessing new and original methods for the study of accelerated plasma and the shock waves action on the solid body surface and the solid bodies impact-interactions (State Research Center of Russian Federation Troitsk Institute for Innovation and Fusion Research, Ministry on Atomic Energy, abbreviated SRC RF TRINITI).

Modern astronomical data indicate that organic molecules are accumulated under the conditions to be reproduced in the Project, thus the work planned is realistic. The main difficulty will be connected with adequate experimental mimicking of the processes proceeding within interstellar dust clouds such as very low pressures, low temperatures, action of accelerated particles (mainly protons) and UV irradiation, the shock waves action, etc. It is not expected to get a high yield of organic reaction products. This circumstance makes it necessary to conduct modeling experiments with a most efficient technical and instrumental preparation as well as to substantially increase the sensitivity of analytical methods used. The new and original techniques used in fusion studies and photo-chemistry, for instance, unique plasma accelerator, a powerful laser inducing a shock wave formation and modern powerful Xe-sources of UV-radiation as well as a multi-rail launcher for studies of high speed collisions will be used. The high efficiency of analysis of chemical products will be reached by using as reaction substrates of radioactively-labeled substances and a scintillation radioactivity counter as well as of high-efficiency liquid chromatography (HPLC), electrophoresis, luminescence methods, mass-spectrometry and methods of tunneling microscopy. The investigators will be able to use all these methods working in collaboration. The analysis of radioactively labeled substances, high-efficiency chromatography, and electrophoresis will be performed in INBI. The precision manometer, luminescence and diffusion reflection spectroscopy as well as mass-spectrometry will be done in IOPh SPbU. Mass-spectrometry analysis in situ in experiments studying the shock wave action on the experimental target and the application of tunneling microscopy for the detection and identification of organic molecules will be performed in SRC RF TRINITI. The authors possess all the technologies needed to prepare target-samples for experiments. Special attention will be given to the development of the techniques for preparation of these samples. For instance, a construction of multi-layer target-samples is planned to model processes in a surface layer of mineral particles of interstellar dust. The technique presumes a coating of the metal block chilled to the liquid nitrogen temperature with a mineral layer to which, in its turn, the reaction substrates will be ‘frozen’ such as mixtures of simple gases or organic molecules. The techniques of the temperature monitoring of surface by its luminosity will be developed and adjusted for the specific experiments planned. The principal investigators are world-level experts in the development of this method, which permits the recording of temperature changes with a microsecond resolution. The result of the Project will be an elucidation of synthetic mechanisms for the formation of organic molecules in the Universe. The role of mineral matrix in these processes will be determined and a comparative efficiency in these various energy sources (charged particles, photons, shock waves) will be given for these syntheses. These results will make it possible to propose a conceptual model of interstellar particle as a site, where non-equilibrium processes proceed and to work out a model of the chemical evolution of organic substances at the stage of the solar system formation, where origin of life occurred and planetary systems emerged.

More than 50 percent of scientists participating in the Project were and are involved into a design of thermonuclear and laser weapons.