Don Fraser

Don Fraser

Professor of Earth Sciences
Tel: +44 (0) 1865 272033
Fax: 01865 272072

Research Profile

I am interested in the origins of biochirality and how mineral surfaces interact with simple organic molecules to facilitate non-biological polymerization and the formation of pre-biotic molecules like peptides. We have shown experimentally how inorganic layered double hydroxides (LDH), based on brucite and gibbsite, can catalyse the formation of oligopeptides with high yields. The experimental results are modelled using both MD simulations and ab initio calculations to provide information on molecular orientation on these layered materials.

A related area of interest involves the use of small angle neutron scattering to probe how chiral amino acids interact with clay layers in modified vermiculite gels with 5nm interlayer spacing. This is combined with measurements using  isotopically substituted amino acids to provide a detailed view of amino acids in the clay inter-layer.

My other main interest involves the thermodynamic properties of silicate melts and how these are determined by the acid-base properties of their components, including volatile components.

  • Insights into the Behaviour of Biomolecules on the Early Earth: The Concentration of Aspartate by Layered Double Hydroxide Minerals  Brian Grégoire · Valentina Erastova · Dawn L. Geatches · Stewart J. Clark · H. Christopher Greenwell · Donald G. Fraser. Geochim.Cosmochim Acta, DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2015.12.026 In Press, 2016.
  • Humphreys, M.C.S., Brooker, R.A., Fraser, D.G., Burgisser, A., Mangan, M.T. & McCammon, C. (2015). Coupled interactions between volatile activity and Fe oxidation state during arc crustal processes.Journal of Petrology 56(4): 795-814.
  • Fraser, DG, Fitz, D, Jakschitz, T, Rode, BM, (2011) ‘Selective adsorption and chiral amplification of amino acids in vermiculite clay-implications for the origin of biochirality.’, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. pp. 831-838 doi: 10.1039/c0cp01388a
  • Fraser, DG, Greenwell, HC, Skipper, NT, Smalley, MV, Wilkinson, MA, Demé, B, Heenan, RK, (2011) ‘Chiral interactions of histidine in a hydrated vermiculite clay.’, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. pp. 825-830 doi: 10.1039/c0cp01387k
  • Li, F, Fitz, D, Fraser, DG, Rode, BM, (2010) ‘Arginine in the salt-induced peptide formation reaction: enantioselectivity facilitated by glycine, L- and D-histidine.’, Amino Acids. pp. 579-585 doi: 10.1007/s00726-010-0479-5
  • Li, F, Fitz, D, Fraser, DG, Rode, BM, (2010) ‘Catalytic effects of histidine enantiomers and glycine on the formation of dileucine and dimethionine in the salt-induced peptide formation reaction.’, Amino Acids. pp. 287-294 doi: 10.1007/s00726-009-0249-4
  • Li, F, Fitz, D, Fraser, DG, Rode, BM, (2008) ‘Methionine Peptide Formation under Primordial Earth Conditions’, Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry. pp. 1212-1217 doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2007.12.020
  • Fraser, DG, Li, F, Fitz, D, Fraser, DG, Rode, BM, () ‘Methionine peptide formation under primordial earth conditions’, Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry. pp. 1212-1217
  • Fraser, DG, Deak, DS, Liu, S, Castell, MR, (2006) ‘Structure of vapour deposited adenine on a nanostructured perovskite surface studied by STM’, Faraday Discussions. pp. 303-309 doi: 10.1039/B518079A
  • Fraser, DG, (2005) ‘Acid-base properties and structons: towards a structural model for predicting the thermodynamic properties of silicate melts’, Annals of Geophysics. pp. 549-559 doi: 10.4401/ag-3219
  • Xue, X, Kanzaki, M, Fraser, DG, (2002) ‘The dissolution mechanisms of forsterite and enstatite: Constraints from Si-29 and H-1 MAS NMR’, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, pp. A853-A853
  • Mejias, JA, Berry, AJ, Refson, K, Fraser, DG, (1999) ‘The kinetics and mechanism of MgO dissolution’, Chem. Phys. Letters. pp. 558-563 doi: 10.1016/S0009-2614%2899%2900909-4
  • Wogelius, R., Refson, K, Fraser, DG, Grime, G, Goff, J, (1995) ‘Periclase surface hydroxylation during dissolution’, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, pp. 1875-1881 doi: 10.1016/0016-7037%2895%2900070-G
  • Refson, K, Wogelius, RA, Fraser, DG, Payne, MC, Lee, MH, Milman, V, (1995) ‘Water chemisorption and reconstruction of the MgO surface.’, Phys Rev B Condens Matter. pp. 10823-10826 doi: 10.1103/PhysRevB.52.10823