High-Energy Chemistry of Formamide: A Simpler Way for Nucleobase Formation

Published: JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY A 118, 719-736 Authors: Ferus, M., Michalcikova, R., Shestivska, V., Sponer, J., Sponer, JE., Civis, S. Year: 2014


The formation of nucleobases from formamide during a high-energy density event, i.e., the impact of an extraterrestrial body into the planetary atmosphere, was studied by irradiation of formamide ice and liquid samples with a high-power laser in the presence of potential catalysts. FTIR spectroscopy, time-resolved emission spectroscopy, and GC-MS were subsequently used to monitor the dissociation of this molecule into stable molecular fragments (HCN, H2O, HNCO, H-2, CO, and NH3) and unstable species (HNC, center dot CN, and center dot NH). The kinetic and thermodynamic models of the high-energy density event molecular dynamics have been suggested together with the reaction routes leading from the dissociation products to the nucleobases. In addition, using theoretical calculations, we propose a simple new reaction pathway for the formation of both pyrimidine and purine nucleobases involving center dot CN radical chemistry.