Carbon Helix Bond

William Bains william at
Tue Apr 15 07:34:52 EST 1997

In article <334EDC8B.5D58 at>, blanjb at wrote:

> Jim Bullard wrote:

> Perhaps, phosphodiester bonds could link rings of silicon, but what
> about the h-bonding necessary between the amino acids? 
> Anyone know?  Is is possible to get silicon to form a structure similar
> to a nucleotide?

It is possible to get silicon-oxygen-hydrogen ring structures, I think:
the hydrolysis products of magnesium silicide include mainly silane
(SiH4), some ethane-analogue (Si2H6), and some traces of mixed stuff
including material with Si3O3 ring in it. (This is from very old memory.)
But whether it forms naturally in simple reactions like this is a red
herring, of course, because if you just cooked up some reactive carbon
compounds in water or acid you would not get DNA out. 

Hydrogen beonding cetrainly works in silicate materials - it is why many
of them are so good at binding proteins, and provides some of the energy
holding hydrated silicate gel together in water. 

Of course, we may be looking in the wrong place for this chemistry.
Silicon may be the ideal element to build complex molecules in another
solvent, like ammonia or methane. Are there any chemists out there who can

William Bains

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