Prebiotic chemistry in eutectic solutions at the water-ice matrix
A crystalline ice matrix at subzero temperatures can maintain a liquid phase where organic solutes and salts concentrate to form eutectic solutions. This concentration effect converts the confined reactant solutions in the ice matrix, sometimes making condensation and polymerisation reactions occur more favourably. These reactions occur at significantly high rates from a prebiotic chemistry standpoint, and the labile products can be protected from degradation. The experimental study of the synthesis of nitrogen heterocycles at the ice-water system showed the efficiency of this scenario and could explain the origin of nucleobases in the inner Solar System bodies, including meteorites and extra-terrestrial ices, and on the early Earth. The same conditions can also favour the condensation of monomers to form ribonucleic acid and peptides. Together with the synthesis of these monomers, the ice world (i.e., the chemical evolution in the range between the freezing point of water and the limit of stability of liquid brines, 273 to 210 K) is an under-explored experimental model in prebiotic chemistry.