Laboratory Exobiology: Prebiotic Environments in Ionic Liquids?

Summary

Life in the universe is widely presumed only to be viable in the ‘Goldilocks zone’ around a star, where liquid water is available.  Some have speculated that Titan may be an alternative, if chilly, nursery for radically different life-forms. Molten salts seem at first glance to be an unlikely environment for the development of complex organic molecules due to their high melting points, but recently a very large number of low melting salts –ionic liquids – have been discovered.  Many of these support the self-assembly of micelles and vesicles, and the folding of proteins, both necessary for the emergence of life.  In this project we will explore the limits of self-assembly of pre-biotic structures in simple ionic liquids.  Can we assemble a self-replicating system in a purely ionic-liquid environment?

Supervisor(s)

Professor Gregory Warr

Research Location

School of Chemistry

Program Type

Masters/PHD

Synopsis

Life in the universe is widely presumed only to be viable in the ‘Goldilocks zone’ around a star, where liquid water is available.

Additional Information

Scholarships are available to high quality students. Most local students in the laboratory are supported by an Australian or University Postgraduate Award. International students are supported by a variety of other scholarships. Industrial funded projects are also available from time to time. Please contact me for further details.


HDR Inherent Requirements
In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Keywords

Ionic liquids, self-assembly, complex fluids, soft matter, neutron, x-ray, surfactant, colloid, nanoparticle, physical chemistry.

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1494

Other opportunities with Professor Gregory Warr