Research Fellows Directory
Dr Sergio Ioppolo
Queen Mary, University of London
One of the most important questions that humanity has not yet found a clear answer to is how life was formed in the Universe. If space is as empty as it looks when we look at the sky, why do molecules exist in this seeming emptiness? How and why are stars and planets that may host the right conditions for life created? The main goal of astrochemistry is to answer questions like these. In the last decade, scientists have proven that the apparent emptiness of our Universe hides a rich and complex chemistry. However, the mechanisms that lead to the formation of organic species and to the inclusion of these species in planetesimals are still largely a mystery to us. The research that I am currently conducting at the Open University provides insights on the origin and fate of the complex molecules that are potentially linked to life on Earth and possibly on other Earth-like planets. In support of my research, I am developing and using new submillimeter and THz experimental techniques (e.g., THz time-domain spectroscopy and heterodyne radiometry) that allow me to investigate the single steps leading to the formation of molecules on solid icy interstellar grains and their sublimation from dust grains. Understanding how and where these species form is pivotal to predicting their fate. My work will ultimately generate an extensive gas/ice-database in support of astronomical observations and measure time-resolved dynamics within the ice that lead to a higher molecular complexity in space.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)