Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Phosphate Ester Bond Chemistry with Zirconium (IV) Catalysts Public Deposited

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  • Earth’s infancy was a time of immense chemical complexity. Over many millions of years, steady chemical cycles were formed and driven by thermodynamics and organic precursors left over from the planet’s formation. In aqueous environments, this chemistry may have led to the formation of catalytic RNA species capable of information storage and replication. Presumably, the formation of these oligonucleotides was catalyzed by primordial Earth’s abundant mineral content. However, the species that accelerated these types of transformations are unknown. In this study, the role of Zr+4 in the catalytic formation of phosphate ester bonds was explored. Through TLC screening, it was found that most of the test conditions produced no observable phosphorylated products. In the final samples, there were highly polar spots which may have contained phosphate-bearing compounds. These findings provide mixed certainty about zirconium’s catalytic capacity for ester formation but suggest that zirconium metal organic frameworks (MOFs) and alternative metal ions may be viable routes for future investigation.

Date Awarded
  • 2022-03-31
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Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2022-04-11
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