Miller-Urey Spark-Discharge Experiments in the Deuterium World

Geoffrey J. T. Cooper, Andrew J. Surman, Jim McIver, Stephanie M. Colón-Santos, Piotr S. Gromski, Saskia Buchwald, Irene Suárez Marina, Leroy Cronin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We designed and conducted a series of primordial‐soup Miller‐Urey style experiments with deuterated gases and reagents to compare the spark‐discharge products of a “deuterated world” with the standard reaction in the “hydrogenated world”. While the deuteration of the system has little effect on the distribution of amino acid products, significant differences are seen in other regions of the product‐space. Not only do we observe about 120 new species, we also see significant differences in their distribution if the two hydrogen isotope worlds are compared. Several isotopologue matches can be identified in both, but a large proportion of products have no equivalent in the corresponding isotope world with ca. 43 new species in the D world and ca. 39 new species in the H world. This shows that isotopic exchange (the addition of only one neutron) may lead to significant additional complexity in chemical space under otherwise identical reaction conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8079-8082
Number of pages4
Issue number28
Early online date5 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2017


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