We propose that redox reactions on the surface of interstellar dust grains contribute to the synthesis of some polyatomic species that have been identified by spectroscopic signatures. Most of the dust is found in clouds along with a rich abundance of molecular and atomic species, creating a thermodynamically distinct region in the interstellar medium (ISM) where chemistry can be supported. Using knowledge of redox process at the solid/liquid interface, a hypothesis is presented for processing mechanisms involving electron transfer between surface adsorbed species and the solid dust grains found in the ISM. The hypothesis is based on the interaction of dust grains with electromagnetic radiation and plumes of ionised gas, which electrostatically charge dust grains leading to an adjustment of the Fermi energy of electrons on the surface of individual grains. This process is equivalent to applying an external electrochemical potential to an electrode, to drive redox chemistry on an electrode surface in electrolysis or dynamic electrochemistry. Here the individual grains act as ‘single electrode’ electrochemical reactors in the gas phase. In this paper we highlight a gap in understanding of redox reactions at the solid/gas interface, which is potentially a very fruitful and interesting area of research.
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Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics
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