Plasma modelling and prebiotic chemistry: a review of the state of the art and perspective

Gaia Micca Longo, Luca Vialetto, Paola Diomede, Savino Longo (Corresponding author), Vincenzo Laporta

Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan tijdschriftTijdschriftartikelAcademicpeer review

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We review the recent progress in the modeling of plasmas or ionized gases, with compositions compatible with that of primordial atmospheres. The plasma kinetics involves elementary processes by which free electrons ultimately activate weakly reactive molecules, such as carbon dioxide or methane, thereby potentially starting prebiotic reaction chains. These processes include electron–molecule reactions and energy exchanges between molecules. They are basic processes, for example, in the famous Miller-Urey experiment, and become relevant in any prebiotic scenario where the primordial atmosphere is significantly ionized by electrical activity, photoionization or meteor phenomena. The kinetics of plasma displays remarkable complexity due to the non-equilibrium features of the energy distributions involved. In particular, we argue that two concepts developed by the plasma modeling community, the electron velocity distribution function and the vibrational distribution function, may unlock much new information and provide insight into prebiotic processes initiated by electron–molecule collisions.
Originele taal-2Engels
Aantal pagina's17
Nummer van het tijdschrift12
StatusGepubliceerd - 16 jun 2021


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