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Wavy membranes and the growth rate of a planar chemical garden

Title: Wavy membranes and the growth rate of a planar chemical garden: Enhanced diffusion and bioenergetics.
Name(s): Ding, Yang, author
Batista, Bruno, author
Steinbock, Oliver, author
Cartwright, Julyan H E, author
Cardoso, Silvana S S, author
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Journal Article
Date Issued: 2016-08-16
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: To model ion transport across protocell membranes in Hadean hydrothermal vents, we consider both theoretically and experimentally the planar growth of a precipitate membrane formed at the interface between two parallel fluid streams in a 2D microfluidic reactor. The growth rate of the precipitate is found to be proportional to the square root of time, which is characteristic of diffusive transport. However, the dependence of the growth rate on the concentrations of hydroxide and metal ions is approximately linear and quadratic, respectively. We show that such a difference in ionic transport dynamics arises from the enhanced transport of metal ions across a thin gel layer present at the surface of the precipitate. The fluctuations in transverse velocity in this wavy porous gel layer allow an enhanced transport of the cation, so that the effective diffusivity is about one order of magnitude higher than that expected from molecular diffusion alone. Our theoretical predictions are in excellent agreement with our laboratory measurements of the growth of a manganese hydroxide membrane in a microfluidic channel, and this enhanced transport is thought to have been needed to account for the bioenergetics of the first single-celled organisms.
Identifier: FSU_pmch_27486248 (IID), 10.1073/pnas.1607828113 (DOI), PMC4995959 (PMCID), 27486248 (RID), 27486248 (EID), 1607828113 (PII)
Keywords: Chemical gardens, Chemobrionics, Hydrothermal vents, Origin of life
Publication Note: This NIH-funded author manuscript originally appeared in PubMed Central at
Subject(s): Diffusion
Energy Metabolism
Hydrothermal Vents
Lab-On-A-Chip Devices
Membranes, Artificial
Persistent Link to This Record:
Host Institution: FSU
Is Part Of: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
Issue: iss. 33, vol. 113

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Ding, Y., Batista, B., Steinbock, O., Cartwright, J. H. E., & Cardoso, S. S. S. (2016). Wavy membranes and the growth rate of a planar chemical garden: Enhanced diffusion and bioenergetics. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America. Retrieved from