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2012 Annual Science Report

Montana State University Reporting  |  SEP 2011 – AUG 2012

Surface Chemistry of Iron-Sulfur Minerals

Project Summary

The exposure of pyrite surfaces to energetic particle beams creates an activated surface that is capable of facilitating the reduction of nitrogen molecules to ammonia. Experimental results and complementary theoretical calculations indicates that the exposure of pyrite surfaces creates anomalously reduced iron atoms. The chemical state of the surface iron atoms is somewhat similar to iron in the active center of several key enzymes. The triple bond in dinitrogen sorbed onto these reduced surface iron atoms weakens, which is a key step in the conversion to ammonia, a key reagent in the formation of amino acids on the prebiotic Earth

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites
    Timothy Minton Timothy Minton
    Project Investigator
    Robert Szilagyi Robert Szilagyi
    Project Investigator
    Alexios Grigoropoulos

    Che Li

    Michael Vance

    David Gardenghi
    Doctoral Student

    Logan Giles
    Doctoral Student

    Travis Harris
    Doctoral Student

    Bradley Towey
    Doctoral Student

    Objective 3.1
    Sources of prebiotic materials and catalysts

    Objective 3.2
    Origins and evolution of functional biomolecules

    Objective 3.3
    Origins of energy transduction

    Objective 7.1
    Biosignatures to be sought in Solar System materials

    Objective 7.2
    Biosignatures to be sought in nearby planetary systems