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Radicals in prebiotic chemistry

Authors
  • Lim, Renee W. J.1
  • Fahrenbach, Albert C.1
  • 1 University of New South Wales, 2052 , (Australia)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Pure and Applied Chemistry
Publisher
Walter de Gruyter GmbH
Publication Date
Oct 14, 2020
Volume
92
Issue
12
Pages
1971–1986
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/pac-2020-0805
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Radical chemistry is tightly interwoven in proposed prebiotic synthetic pathways, reaction networks and geochemical scenarios that have helped shape our understanding of how life could have originated. Gas-phase prebiotic reactions involving electric discharge, vapour ablation by asteroidal and cometary impacts as well as ionising radiation all produce radicals that facilitate complex molecular synthesis. Reactions in the solid phase which are responsible for astrochemical syntheses can also take place through radicals produced via irradiation of protoplanetary/interstellar ice grains and dust particles. Aqueous-phase radical chemistry affords further molecular complexity promoting the production of precursors for the synthesis of biopolymers thought important for the emergence of life. Radical chemistry appears to be a common thread amongst all kinds of prebiotic investigations, and this Review aims to bring attention to a few selected examples. Some important historical studies and modern developments with respect to prebiotic chemistry are summarised through the lens of radical chemistry.

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