Temperature can control the growth of biomorphs

Temperature can control the growth of biomorphs

Biomorphs are silica and carbonate materials capable of assembling themselves to create symmetries, forms and structures similar to those of living organisms. The results of this CSIC study have been published in the journal ‘Nature Communications’. Calcium carbonate is the mineral most used by living organisms to build complex structures with excellent mechanical properties that they use as exoskeletons. To make them, they only need calcium from sea or river water, carbon dioxide from the…

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Silica Metal Oxide Vesicles Catalyze Comprehensive Prebiotic Chemistry

Silica Metal Oxide Vesicles Catalyze Comprehensive Prebiotic Chemistry

Mattia Bizzarri, B.; Botta, L.; Perez-Valverde, M. I.; Saladino, R.; Di Mauro, E.; Garcia-Ruiz, J. M., Silica Metal Oxide Vesicles Catalyze Comprehensive Prebiotic Chemistry. Chemistry (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany) 2018, 24 (32), 8126-8132. Download paper. It has recently been demonstrated that mineral self‐assembled structures catalyzing prebiotic chemical reactions may form in natural waters derived from serpentinization, a geological process widespread in the early stages of Earth‐like planets. We have synthesized self‐assembled membranes by mixing…

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PROMETHEUS-TRACES Meeting June 2018

PROMETHEUS-TRACES Meeting June 2018

Our annual ERC Advanced Project PROMETHEUS meeting has been held from the 18th to the 21st of June 2018 at the facilities of Hotel Martin Alonso Pinzon in Mazagón (Huelva), close to the extremely acidic landscapes of the mines of Rio Tinto. We have organised the meeting jointly with ERC Consolidator project ‘TRACES’ led by Dr. Mark van Zuilen, from the Institut du Physique du Globe in Paris. We shared four intense and fruitful days…

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Teaching in Kenyan Schools

Teaching in Kenyan Schools

Teaching in Kenyan Schools (downloadable pdf) The ERC project Prometheus aims to explore the role of mineral self-assembly in the early Earth and its plausible role in primitive life detection and origin of life. Within the project, we have to travel to remote places in search of silica-rich alkaline waters and other extreme geochemical environments. We like to explain people of the regions we visit what we are looking for and why. When possible we…

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Biomimetic mineral self-organization from silica-rich spring waters

Biomimetic mineral self-organization from silica-rich spring waters

Garcia-Ruiz, J. M.; Nakouzi, E.; Kotopoulou, E.; Tamborrino, L.; Steinbock, O., Biomimetic mineral self-organization from silica-rich spring waters. Sci Adv 2017, 3 (3). Download paper. Purely inorganic reactions of silica, metal carbonates, and metal hydroxides can produce self-organized complex structures that mimic the texture of biominerals, the morphology of primitive organisms, and that catalyze prebiotic reactions. To date, these fascinating structures have only been synthesized using model solutions. We report that mineral self-assembly can be…

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Precipitation and Crystallization Kinetics in Silica Gardens

Precipitation and Crystallization Kinetics in Silica Gardens

Glaab, F.; Rieder, J.; Klein, R.; Choquesillo-Lazarte, D.; Melero-Garcia, E.; Garcia-Ruiz, J. M.; Kunz, W.; Kellermeier, M., Precipitation and Crystallization Kinetics in Silica Gardens. Chemphyschem 2017, 18 (4), 338-345. Download paper. Silica gardens are extraordinary plant‐like structures resulting from the complex interplay of relatively simple inorganic components. Recent work has highlighted that macroscopic self‐assembly is accompanied by the spontaneous formation of considerable chemical gradients, which induce a cascade of coupled dissolution, diffusion, and precipitation processes…

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Field trip to Aqua de Ney

Field trip to Aqua de Ney

From 8th-14th August we carried out a field trip to Aqua de Ney Spring , an unusual spring in northern California. Aqua de Ney has the highest reported silica concentration (>4000 pm) and pH value (~11.9) in a natural spring. We collected water from these springs, measured in situ the pH and ex-situ silica concentration. Then, we performed experiments with these waters finding that they react with metals to form silica biomorphs and silica gardens (metal…

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Summary of main achievements (August 2014-January 2017)

Summary of main achievements (August 2014-January 2017)

Our project is based on the interaction of two main research lines: 1) The fundamental understanding of the phenomenon of mineral self-assembly and, 2) Its relevance to reveal the transition from non-life to life during the Early Earth. We have made the following progress in both fields: Successful field trips to Aqua de Ney alkaline waters (California), Oman ophiolites and their alkaline springs, Dallol hydrothermal system in Ethiopia, and alkaline lakes in the Southern Rift…

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New paper on mineral self-organization, life detection and origin of life

New paper on mineral self-organization, life detection and origin of life

Our last paper on mineral self-organization, life detection and origin of life has just been published in Science Advances: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/3/e1602285.full. This work is one of the dreams of my life as a scientist. For at least 20 years, I have identified the rare and remote places on the planet where there are silica-rich alkaline waters with which I could do the experiments to produce biomorphs. Thus far, without the help of Prometheus, I had not…

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