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
Prof. Dr. Marcel Mayor, University of Basel, Department of Chemistry, phone: +41 61 267 10 06, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reto Caluori | Universität Basel
Copper hydroxide nanoparticles provide protection against toxic oxygen radicals in cigarette smoke
29.05.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences