CH4/N2/H2-spark hydrophobic tholins: A systematic approach to the characterisation of tholins. Part II
Two different simulation experiments of prebiotic synthesis were carried out in a CH4/N2/H2 atmosphere with spark discharge activation of aqueous aerosols and liquid water. In both cases, a hydrophilic tholin and a hydrophobic tholin were obtained. The methodology developed by our group for the characterisation of hydrophilic tholins [Ruiz-Bermejo, M., Menor-Salván, C., Mateo-Martí, E., Osuna-Esteban, S., Martín-Gago, J.A., Veintemillas-Verdaguer, S., 2008. Icarus 198, 232–241] was used in order to study the hydrophobic tholins. The gas precursors of the tholins from mixtures containing CH4, with and without H2, were studied. We propose that the formation of the hydrophobic tholins involves the formation of unsaturated oligomeric hydrocarbon chains from vinyl and acetylene monomers, as well as allene derivatives formed in the gas phase after the incorporation of polar groups into these hydrocarbon chains. Finally, we compare our results concerning hydrophobic tholins with HCN polymers, since it is generally suggested that the polymeric material formed in spark experiments are possible oligomers of HCN, and that Titan’s tholins could be poly-HCN.