I am interested in Astrochemistry - the study of chemical reactions in cold and dark space environments.
Such locations include the atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon Titan, where chemical reactions unfold over time to produce ‘Complex Organic Molecules;’ which include species of biological importance. In order to sensitive instruments and telescopes to understand the make-up of the COM material, their spectral signatures must be compiled.
To this end we use a specialised gas cell to mimic the conditions of Titan. This allows us to perform experiments with the intense infrared beam at the Australian Synchrotron.
With clues to the chemical composition of the COM material, we search for biological building-blocks such as amino acids and DNA nucleobases, species that may help untangle the chemical origins for life on Earth.