Here is a fascinating reader-friendly exploration of “the phosphorus enigma.” The volume attempts to answer the questions: How did phosphorus atoms, which are produced inside the inner cores of a handful of huge stars, become concentrated in relatively high proportions in the organisms composing Earth’s biosphere? And how did these phosphate derivatives manage to be included in such a great variety of organic molecules playing essential biochemical roles in all known life forms?
Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the topic, the volume is arranged in three sections. The first section introduces the fundamental concepts and notions of physics, chemistry, and biology necessary for the proper understanding of the topics discussed within an astronomical framework. The author then focuses on the role of phosphorus and its compounds within the context of chemical evolution in galaxies, considering its relevance in most essential biochemical functions as well as its peculiar chemistry under different physicochemical conditions. The third section provides an overall perspective on the role of phosphorus and its compounds in current areas of research of solid state physics, materials engineering, nanotechnology or medicine.
Table of Contents
1. The Phosphorus Enigma: An Overview 2. The Unfolding Universe 3. Cosmic Distribution of the Main Biogenic Elements 4. Physical and Chemical Properties of Phosphorus Compounds 5. The Nucleosynthesis of Phosphorus 6. From Stellar Atmospheres to the Interstellar Medium and Back Again 7. Phosphorus Compounds in Planetary Systems 8. Prebiotic Chemical Evolution and the Phosphate Problem 9. Phosphorus Technology: Man Made Compounds 10. Outlook and Perspectives
Enrique Maciá-Barber, PhD, is currently a professor of condensed matter physics at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. His research interests include the thermoelectric properties of quasicrystals and DNA biophysics. He is author of several monographs and books, including Aperiodic Structures in Condensed Matter: Fundamentals and Applications (CRC Press) and Thermoelectric Materials: Fundamentals and Applications (Pan Stanford). Dr. Maciá-Barber holds a PhD in Physical Sciences from the Complutense University of Madrid, where he was the winner of the Extraordinary Doctorate Award for his thesis on Elementary Excitations in Aperiodics Systems.
“This book beautifully traces the stellar origin of the element phosphorous, its chemical properties, and the observations of phosphorous-based molecules and minerals in the interstellar medium and in the solar system. [The author] then connects the astronomical studies with the role of phosphorous played in living organisms, presenting the biochemistry of biomolecules that incorporate phosphorous, and the roles that these molecules play in the origin of life on Earth. This book presents a comprehensive summary of our current understanding of the astrochemical and astrobiological significance of phosphorous. It is invaluable for researchers and students who are interested in the question of origin of life and the search for extraterrestrial life. ”
—From the Foreword by Sun Kwok, President, International Astronomical Union Commission on Astrobiology (2015–2018), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada