Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UAB scientists discover the origin of a mysterious force

01.03.2005


Scientists at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and Imperial College London have discovered the origin of hydration force, a phenomenon that causes some complex chemical and biochemical species (including DNA and other electrostatically charged molecules) to repel at short distances when surrounded by water. Through this research, improvements could be made to the design of chemical products used in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industry.



Ever since the 1970s, scientists have been trying to establish the cause of a repulsive force occurring between different electrostatically charged molecules, such as DNA and other biomolecules, when they are very close to each other in aqueous media. This force became know as hydration force.

Jordi Faraudo, a researcher for the Department of Physics at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and Fernando Bresme of the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London have studied this mysterious force in detail and have discovered where its origins lie.


In the same way that a flag flutters in the direction the wind is blowing, at a microscopic level water molecules are gently attracted towards the direction in which an electric field is pointing. However, when the water is in contact with surfaces that create small electric fields, such as chemical compounds like those found in many detergents, this is no longer the case: the water molecules have a remarkable capacity to organise themselves into complex structures that are strongly orientated in such a way as to cancel out the electric field, and on some occasions, to reverse it. This abnormal behaviour was discovered by the same researchers and published in Physical Review Letters in April 2004.

The scientists have now discovered that this strange property is responsible for the hydration force that acts when water is surrounded by certain types of electrostatically charged molecules, such as DNA and some biological compounds, and when thin films form in detergents. The discovery has been published in today’s edition of Physical Review Letters.

Water is the solvent in which most physical, chemical and biological processes take place. Therefore, it is essential to understand the nature of interactions between molecules dissolved in water in order to understand many of these processes. Two of the most important of these processes are the adherence of substances to cell membranes and the withdrawal of proteins. Both of these are fundamental in biomedical research, since a substantial part of the process of designing new drugs is based on understanding how substances penetrate cell membranes to enter cells. These drugs are often proteins designed to prevent or strengthen the action of other substances. In these cases, accurately identifying the protein folding is essential, since the form these proteins take on when they fold influences how effectively they are able to act.

Fully understanding the properties of this force that occurs when molecules surrounded by water adhere to each other is also useful in the chemical industry, particularly when involving mechanisms in which colloidal suspensions must be stabilised, such as the mechanisms used to produce paints, cosmetics and food products such as yoghurt and mayonnaise.

Octavi López Coronado | alfa
Further information:
http://www.uab.es
http://www.uab.es/uabdivulga/eng

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cells communicate in a dynamic code
19.02.2018 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>