Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Molecules wrestle for supremacy in creation of superstructures

The molecules in the majority form the superstructure while the minority remain disordered
The molecules in the majority form the superstructure while the minority remain disordered

Abstract:
Research at the University of Liverpool has found how mirror-image molecules gain control over each other and dictate the physical state of superstructures.

Molecules wrestle for supremacy in creation of superstructures

UK | Posted on August 15th, 2009

The research team studied ‘chiral' or ‘different-handed' molecules which are distinguishable by their inability to be superimposed onto their mirror image. Such molecules are common - proteins use just one mirror form of amino acids and DNA, one form of sugars. Chirality leads to profound differences in the way a molecule functions - for example, drugs such as thalidomide can have positive effects on a patient but can prove harmful in their mirror image form.

Molecules can also assemble in large numbers and form ‘superstructures' such as snowflakes which are created from large numbers of water molecules. When chiral molecules assemble they can create ‘handed' superstructures; for example left-handed molecules can assemble together to make a left-handed superstructure. The Liverpool team studied this process in detail by assembling molecules at flat surfaces and using imaging techniques to map the formation of superstructures at nanoscale level.

Before now, scientists have not known whether, in systems containing both left-handed and right-handed molecules, one mirror-form of a molecule could take supremacy over its opposite number in the creation of superstructures, dictating their physical state and chemical and biological properties.

The research found that when equal numbers of mirror-molecules are present at the surface, they organise into separate left and right-handed superstructures, each with distinctly different properties. Crucially, a small imbalance in the population leads to a dramatic difference and only the molecules in the majority assemble into its superstructure, while the minority is left disordered at the surface and unable to create advanced molecular matter.

Professor Rasmita Raval from the University's Surface Science Research Centre said: "We were surprised at these results. All perceived wisdom was that the left and right-handed molecules would simply create their respective superstructures in quantities that reflected the molecular ratio - that is, we would observe proportional representation. Instead, what we obtained was a kind of ‘molecular democracy' that worked on a ‘first-past-the-post' system where the majority population wrested chiral control of the superstructures and the minority was left disorganised."

Theoretical modelling carried out by the University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands found that this behaviour arises from the effects of entropy, or disorder, which leads the chiral molecules in the majority to preferentially organise into their superstructure.

The work has important implications in the pharmaceuticals industry and could lead to the development of surface processes to enable separation of drugs and products that are currently difficult to purify. The research also introduces the possibility that assembly processes at surfaces may naturally have led to the evolution of proteins and DNA - the molecules of life - containing just one mirror form of amino acids and sugars.

The research, in collaboration with the University of Eindhoven, is published in Nature Chemistry.

####

About University of Liverpool
The University of Liverpool is a world leading research university. Its history dates back to 1881 and the establishment of University College Liverpool.

Liverpool is the original redbrick university. The term 'redbrick' was inspired from the iconic Victoria Building, completed in 1892.

Today, the University continues to expand its teaching and research with centres of excellence in areas such as medicine, engineering and veterinary science. It is a member of the Russell Group, the association of the UK's top 20 research-led universities.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Kate Spark
Media Relations Manager
Phone: work +44 (0) 151 794 2247
Out of hours (cell+44 (0) 7970 247391)

Copyright © University of Liverpool

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Harris & Harris Group Announces the Filing of Preliminary Proxy Materials Detailing Its Proposed Conversion From a BDC to a Registered Closed-End Fund January 24th, 2017

The speed limit for intra-chip communications in microprocessors of the future January 23rd, 2017

New, old science combine to make faster medical test: Nanoparticles and Faraday rotation allow faster diagnoses January 23rd, 2017

Traffic jam in empty space: New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum January 22nd, 2017

Chemistry

Chemistry on the edge: Experiments at Berkeley Lab confirm that structural defects at the periphery are key in catalyst function January 13th, 2017

Researchers produced nitrogen doped bimodal cellular structure activated carbon December 29th, 2016

Safe and inexpensive hydrogen production as a future energy source: Osaka University researchers develop efficient 'green' hydrogen production system that operates at room temperature in air December 21st, 2016

Scientists boost catalytic activity for key chemical reaction in fuel cells: New platinum-based catalysts with tensile surface strain could improve fuel cell efficiency December 19th, 2016

Possible Futures

Harris & Harris Group Announces the Filing of Preliminary Proxy Materials Detailing Its Proposed Conversion From a BDC to a Registered Closed-End Fund January 24th, 2017

The speed limit for intra-chip communications in microprocessors of the future January 23rd, 2017

New, old science combine to make faster medical test: Nanoparticles and Faraday rotation allow faster diagnoses January 23rd, 2017

Traffic jam in empty space: New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum January 22nd, 2017

Nanomedicine

New, old science combine to make faster medical test: Nanoparticles and Faraday rotation allow faster diagnoses January 23rd, 2017

New research helps to meet the challenges of nanotechnology: Research helps to make the most of nanoscale catalytic effects for nanotechnology January 20th, 2017

Chemists Cook up New Nanomaterial and Imaging Method: Nanomaterials can store all kinds of things, including energy, drugs and other cargo January 19th, 2017

'5-D protein fingerprinting' could give insights into Alzheimer's, Parkinson's January 19th, 2017

Discoveries

The speed limit for intra-chip communications in microprocessors of the future January 23rd, 2017

New, old science combine to make faster medical test: Nanoparticles and Faraday rotation allow faster diagnoses January 23rd, 2017

Traffic jam in empty space: New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum January 22nd, 2017

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

Announcements

Harris & Harris Group Announces the Filing of Preliminary Proxy Materials Detailing Its Proposed Conversion From a BDC to a Registered Closed-End Fund January 24th, 2017

The speed limit for intra-chip communications in microprocessors of the future January 23rd, 2017

New, old science combine to make faster medical test: Nanoparticles and Faraday rotation allow faster diagnoses January 23rd, 2017

Traffic jam in empty space: New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum January 22nd, 2017

Nanobiotechnology

New, old science combine to make faster medical test: Nanoparticles and Faraday rotation allow faster diagnoses January 23rd, 2017

New research helps to meet the challenges of nanotechnology: Research helps to make the most of nanoscale catalytic effects for nanotechnology January 20th, 2017

Chemists Cook up New Nanomaterial and Imaging Method: Nanomaterials can store all kinds of things, including energy, drugs and other cargo January 19th, 2017

'5-D protein fingerprinting' could give insights into Alzheimer's, Parkinson's January 19th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project