Effects of Pressure on Model Compounds of Meteorite Organic Matter

Christian Potiszil, Wren Montgomery, and Mark A. Sephton

ACS Earth and Space Chemistry
Publication Date: August 28, 2017
DOI: 10.1021/acsearthspacechem.7b00053


“Extraterrestrial organic matter has been widely studied; however, its response to pressure has not. Primitive organic matter bearing meteorites, such as CI and CM carbonaceous chondrites, have experienced variable pressures, up to 10 GPa. To appreciate the effects of these pressures on the organic content of these bodies, the model compounds isophthalic acid, vanillin, and vanillic acid were subjected to pressures of up to 11.5 GPa and subsequently decompressed. High-resolution synchrotron source Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy was used to determine the effects of different benzene substituents at high pressure on both the vibrational assignments of the benzene core of the molecules and the ability of the aromatic compounds to form intermolecular hydrogen bonds. The presence of additional peaks at high pressure was found to coincide with molecules that contain carboxyl groups; these features are interpreted as C–H···O intermolecular hydrogen bonds. The formation of these hydrogen bonds has implications for the origination of macromolecular organic matter (MOM), owing to the importance of such attractive forces during episodes of cross-linking, such as esterification. Pressure-induced hydrogen-bond formation is a process by which aromatic MOM precursors could have cross-linked to generate the organic polymers found within extraterrestrial bodies today.”