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Photochemical Dissipative Structuring of the Fundamental Molecules of Life
1  Department of Nuclear Physics and Applications of Radiation, Institute of Physics, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México


It has been conjectured that the origin of the fundamental molecules of life, their proliferation over the surface of Earth, and their complexation through time, are examples of photochemical dissipative structuring, dissipative proliferation, and dissipative selection, respectively, arising out of the non-equilibrium conditions created on Earth’s surface by the solar photon spectrum. Here I describe the non-equilibrium thermodynamics and the photochemical mechanisms involved in the synthesis and evolution of the fundamental molecules of life from simpler more common precursor molecules under the long wavelength UVC and UVB solar photons prevailing at Earth’s surface during the Archean. Dissipative structuring through photochemical mechanisms leads to carbon based UVC pigments with peaked conical intersections which endow them with a large photon disipative capacity (broad wavelength absorption and rapid radiationless dexcitation). Dissipative proliferation occurs when the photochemical dissipative structuring becomes autocatalytic. Dissipative selection arises when fluctuations lead the system to new stationary states (corresponding to different molecular concentration profiles) of greater dissipative capacity as predicted by the universal evolution criterion of Classical Irreversible Thermodynamic theory established by Onsager, Glansdorff, and Prigogine. An example of the UV photochemical dissipative structuring, proliferation, and selection of the nucleobase adenine from an aqueous solution of HCN under UVC light is given.

Keywords: origin of life; disspative structuring; prebiotic chemistry; adenine