The presence of non-stoichiometric sites on the pyrite(100) surface makes it a suitable substrate for driving the chemical evolution of the amino acid glycine over time, even under inert conditions. Spectroscopic molecular fingerprints prove a transition process from a zwitterionic species to an anionic species over time on the monosulfide enriched surface. By combining experimental and theoretical approaches, we propose a surface mechanism where the interaction between the amino acid species and the surface will be driven by the quenching of the surface states at Fe sites and favoured by sulfur vacancies. This study demonstrates the potential capability of pyrite to act as a surface catalyst.
This work has been supported by the MINECO project ESP2017-89053. The Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial supported the work performed at CAB. EER is thankful to Javier Martin-Torres, Alfonso Hernandez-Laguna and C. M. Pradier for their support and suggestions. This Project has been partially funded by the Spanish State Research Agency (AEI) Project No. MDM-2017-0737 Unidad de
Excelencia ‘‘Marıa de Maeztu’’-Centro de Astrobiologıa (CSIC-INTA).