Description of some of my research areas below. For more details see publications page.

Chemical Gardens and Liesegang Bands

Chemical gardens are plant-like structures that form spontaneously when two fluids containing reactive ions intersect. When the system is diffusion-controlled, periodic bands known as “Liesegang bands” can form instead. These are both self-organizing chemical systems that form due to chemical / pH gradients that exist between the two solutions. We are interested in the physical and chemical mechanisms that control the formation of these self-organizing structures and patterns, which has relevance to materials science, patterns in biology and geology, and even the origin of life. More about this research.

Hydrothermal Chimneys

Hydrothermal chimneys - a geological version of a chemical garden - are mineral precipitates that grow at seafloor vents. Chimneys are important for origin of life and habitability on ocean worlds such as Jupiter's moon Europa or Saturn's moon Enceladus. We make small lab-grown chimneys to study their properties under conditions relevant to early Earth and other worlds. More about this research.

Organic / Phosphorus Chemistry in Seafloor Minerals

Iron oxide / hydroxide, carbonate, and silicate minerals are common in seafloor or hydrothermal systems and can undergo interesting reactions with organic molecules or phosphorus species in the environment. We are interested in how these minerals adsorb and concentrate chemical species, and how reactive minerals participate in organic synthesis. More about this research.

Planetary Test Beds: Underwater Lasers and Fuel Cells

Hydrothermal vents are “geo-electrochemical” environments, meaning that naturally occurring gradients can drive abiotic redox chemistry and also can provide a source of energy for biological metabolism. Understanding the details of electrochemical processes in vents can be challenging since it is hard to identify how specific gradients and materials impact the overall system. We use non-invasive spectroscopic techniques and electrochemical methods to observe simulated hydrothermal chemistries in real time, and also prepare for exploration of similar systems in the field. More about this research.



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© Laurie Barge