Prebiotic Chemistry

My interest in prebiotic chemistry is to expand the palette of plausible geochemical energy types on the early Earth that could have facilitated the origins of life. I specifically investigate how ionizing radiation opens up new chemical possibilities that are not possible through redox- and pH-gradient chemical processes alone. My accomplishments so far include:

  1. Discovering the first known path for the geochemical production of formamide starting from atmospheric methane and nitrogen (forthcoming publication).
  2. Demonstrating that radioactive mineral deposits on the young Earth could have created uranium fission zones.
  3. Demonstrating that uranium fission zones create heating patterns that promote the formation of polymers and oligomers.

DSC_0896The Cobalt-60 gamma source at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, accessible through my colleagues at ELSI. The glass vials started out as transparent but became darkened by point-defects in the glass caused by the gamma radiation. 

In the coming months, I’ll be testing a new theoretical pathway for the production of polyphosphates, and investigating the properties of novel amides and nitriles created by gamma radiolysis.