University of Akron polymer scientist finds that certain amino acids and sugars were simply meant to be in life
The origin of life is still a mystery with many unsolved puzzles. How were molecules created? How did they assemble into large structures?
Among the conundrums, the "homochirality" phenomenon upon which amino acids and sugars form is particularly fascinating. University of Akron A. Schulman Professor of Polymer Science Tianbo Liu has discovered that Mother Nature's clear bias toward certain amino acids and sugars and against others isn't accidental.
Liu explains that all life molecules are paired as left-handed and right-handed structures. In scientific terms, the phenomenon is called chirality. Nature's selection of only right-handed sugars and left-handed amino acids upon which to build life might be much simpler than we expected before.
Liu found that any molecules, if large enough (several nanometers) and with an electrical charge, will seek their own type with which to form large assemblies. This "self-recognition" of left-handed and right-handed molecule pairs is featured in the March 10, 2015 issue of Nature Communications .
"We show that homochirality, or the manner in which molecules select other like molecules to form larger assemblies, may not be as mysterious as we imagined," Liu says.
While an understanding of how homochirality occured at the onset of life remains a mystery, this new finding emphasizes that Mother Nature's inner workings may not be as complex as we think.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, this research was led by The University of Akron Department of Polymer Science,with collaborators from Northeast Normal University (China), Emory University, Argonne National Laboratory and Tsinghua University.
Denise Henry | EurekAlert!
First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife
Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.10.2016 | Process Engineering