Exobiology: Matter, Energy, and Information in the Origin and Evolution of Life in the Universe

pp 137-142

Physical Studies of Adsorbed Bio-Organic Substances in Na-Montmorillonite

  • A. Negrón-MendozaAffiliated withInstituto de Ciencias Nucleares, UNAM
  • , S. Ramos-BernalAffiliated withInstituto de Ciencias Nucleares, UNAM
  • , Dwight AcostaAffiliated withInstituto de Física, UNAM
  • , Isabel Gamboa de BuenAffiliated withInstituto de Ciencias Nucleares, UNAM

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Certain solids have been studied with respect to their ability to promote reactions in many organic systems. In particular, clay minerals have been implicated as a probable active surface for prebiological chemical reactions, occurring during the early evolution of the primitive Earth. It is frequently unknown, but very important to explain, how much a solid is involved in the chemical transformation that is taking place at its surface. To have some ideas of the former, some properties of the solid had been monitored and correlated with the adsorption of organic compounds.

In this work we present experimental results from ultraviolet spectroscopy, thermoluminescence, and electron microscopy obtained from samples with adenine and polyadenilic acid (Poly A) adsorbed in Na-montmorillonite. The results obtained indicate that both compounds are readily adsorbed into the clay. Adenine is adsorbed in the interlamellar space via ionic interchange and Poly A is binding mainly at the edges of the crystal. The thermoluminiscence signals allow us to support the proposal that defects in solids caused by natural radiation may serve as energy transfer for reactions in the clay.