London: A new study has revealed about the discovery of a new way to make oxygen on Earth and in space, from carbon dioxide (CO2) without the help of plants.
Student Zhou Lu from University of California, Davis, has shown that oxygen can be formed in one step by using a high energy vacuum ultraviolet laser to excite carbon dioxide.
Lu said that previously, people believed that the abiotic (no green plants involved) source of molecular oxygen is by CO2 + solar light - > CO + O, then O + O + M - > O2 + M (where M represents a third body carrying off the energy released in forming the oxygen bond).
Lu added that their results indicate that O2 can be formed by carbon dioxide dissociation in a one step process that can be applied in other carbon dioxide dominated atmospheres such as Mars and Venus.
Lu used a vacuum ultraviolet laser to irradiate CO2 in the laboratory and the vacuum ultraviolet light is so-called because it has a wavelength below 200 nanometers and is typically absorbed by air.
Such one-step oxygen formation could be happening now as carbon dioxide increases in the region of the upper atmosphere, where high energy vacuum ultraviolet light from the Sun hits Earth or other planets.
The study is published in the journal Science.