Chemists at the University of Basel in Switzerland have succeeded in twisting a molecule by combining molecular strands of differing lengths. The longer strand winds around a central axis like a staircase banister, creating a helical structure that exhibits special physical properties. The results were published in the renowned scientific journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.
The chemistry of all substances is to a large extent defined by their spatial arrangement. Many molecules can be present in two forms (enantiomers), which behave like a person's right and left hand.
In particular, the organism makes a highly specific distinction between left- and right-handed molecules - a substance can, for example, be extremely active as a drug in one form, while its mirror image is entirely inert. The fundamental understanding of this "chirality", as it is called, has long been a central component of research in the field of chemistry.
Connecting strands of different sizes
The researchers headed by Professor Marcel Mayor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Basel have developed a new approach to contort a small molecule into a form similar in appearance to the banister on a spiral staircase.
At the molecular level, the interlinking of two oligomer strands with different lengths forces to the longer strand to wind around the shorter on its own to balance out the discrepancy in length. This creates a helix with a uniform twisting direction. As a consequence the entire molecule becomes chiral.
The researchers were also able to demonstrate that it is possible to dynamically change the form of the helical molecule from left-handed to right and back again in just a few hours.
"It is not just the structural elegance of this molecule which makes it so unique," says Mayor. "Above all, it is a completely new way of constructing a continuous helix."
Efficient procedures for creating chiral compounds generate much interest in basic research and the industrial sector - they can, for example, be used in biological systems research, crop protection chemistry, and the pharmaceutical and fragrance industries. The project was financially supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Rickhaus, M., Bannwart, L. M., Neuburger, M., Gsellinger, H., Zimmermann, K., Häussinger, D. and Mayor, M.
Inducing Axial Chirality in a "Geländer" Oligomer by Length Mismatch of the Oligomer Strands
Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2014) | doi: 10.1002/anie.201408424
Olivia Poisson | EurekAlert!
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy