Exobiologie et Astrobiologie

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Master 2 Internship Offer in Chemistry (end of January – end of June 2023)


Prebiotic synthesis of ammonia from simple gases and vent-related catalytic minerals



The candidate should have interest in the origin of life with high skills in organic and physical chemistry. He/she have to demonstrate collaborative spirit and curiosity to related fields of this project.


Since the discovery around seafloor hot springs on the Galapagos mid-ocean rift that microorganisms could survive under conditions of extreme heat and pressure, it has been proposed that life could have emerged near hydrothermal vents that act as flow reactors, where hydrothermal fluids (supercritical water containing abundant volatiles such as H2, N2, CO2, …) and liquid seawater mix and react in vent chimneys composed of finely-grained natural catalytic minerals. An important constituent of reactants in prebiotic chemistry at hydrothermal vents is the most reduced nitrogen compound NH3 which is a necessary precursor for nitrogen-containing organic molecules. However, how the formation of ammonia from dinitrogen occurs within the theory of the origin of life under reducing conditions is still an open question.
Thus, using a high temperature-high pressure (HTHP) cell developed in our laboratory, this master internship aims at performing experiments using model catalytic minerals containing elements such as Mn, Fe, Ni, S with different composition of reactive model gases (e.g. N2, H2, ..) in order to see the influence of different parameters (gas composition, temperature, reaction time, nature of the mineral) on the expected formation of ammonia. In-situ infrared/Raman spectroscopies will be implemented on the HTHP cell to characterize the thermodynamics, the kinetic and the yield of the reaction.


TECHNIQUES USED: HP/HT Millifluidics, in situ spectroscopy (UV/Visible, Raman, Infrared)


HOST LABORATORY: Institut des Sciences Moléculaires (ISM), TEAM GSM, 351, cours de la Libération, 33405 TALENCE


SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR: Dr. Thierry TASSAING, Tél : 054000 2892, Mél : thierry.tassaing@u-bordeaux.fr ; Grégoire BOE, Mél : gregoire.boe@u-bordeaux.fr



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