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Title: Method development for the application of vibrational spectroscopy to complex organic-inorganic materials in astrobiology : a systematic development of Raman spectroscopy and related analytical methods to the structural chemistry at organic (biological) and inorganic (mineralogical) interfaces of material assemblies relevant to astrobiology and inter-planetary science
Author: Whitaker, Darren Andrew
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2013
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In the search for the conformation of extant or extinct life in an extraterrestrial setting the detection of organic molecular species which may be considered diagnostic of life is a key objective. These molecular targets comprise a range of distinct chemical species, with recognisable spectroscopic features. This project aims to use these features to develop an in-situ molecular specific Raman spectroscopic methodology which can provide structural information about the organic–inorganic interface. The development of this methodology identified a surface enhanced Raman spectroscopic technique, that required minimal sample preparation, allowed for the detection of selected organic species immobilised on an inorganic matrix and was effective for quantities below those which conventional dispersive Raman spectroscopy would detect. For the first time spectral information was gained which allowed analysis of the organic–inorganic interface to be carried out, this gave an insight into the orientation with which molecules arrange on the surfaces of the matrices. Additionally a method for the detection of organic residues intercalated into the interlamellar space of smectite type clays was developed. An evaluation of the effectiveness of uni and multivariate methods for the analysis of large datasets containing a small number of organic features was also carried out, with a view to develop an unsupervised methodology capable of performing with minimal user interaction. It has been shown that a novel use of the Hotellings T2 test when applied to the principal component analysis of the datasets combined with SERS allows identification of a small number of organic features in an otherwise inorganic dominated dataset. Both the SERS and PCA methods hold relevance for the detection of organic residues within interplanetary exploration but may also be applied to terrestrial environmental chemistry.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: SERS; Surface Chemistry; Nucleobases; Sterols; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; Pre-biotic; Detection; Astobiology