The Asymmetry of Organic Aerosol Fission and Prebiotic Chemistry

  • D. J. Donaldson
  • A. F. Tuck
  • V. Vaida


We examine the prebiotic applicability of our recent analysis of the fission of an atmospheric aerosol particle coated with an organic film. The fission is made possible by the free energy change upon compression of the exterior monolayer film on the parent particle, which overcomes the increase in surface area associated with the production of two spherical daughter particles. Asymmetric division into a larger and a smaller particle becomes possible following surfactant film collapse. The size of the airborne parent particle is determined by the balance between aerodynamics and gravity, while the ratio of the radii of the daughters is determined by the compression characteristics of the amphiphilic molecules comprising the parent film. For an Earth atmosphere of one bar surface pressure, the larger and smaller daughters have the sizes of a single-celled bacterium and of a virus respectively. Chemical differentiation between the daughters is possible.

aerosol fission bacteria prebiotic virus 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. J. Donaldson
    • 1
  • A. F. Tuck
    • 2
  • V. Vaida
    • 3
  1. 1.Lash Miller Chemical LaboratoriesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Meteorological Chemistry ProgramNOAA Aeronomy Laboratory R/AL6BoulderU.S.A.
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryUniversity of ColoradoBoulderU.S.A

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