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 Cnidarians remotely control bacteria
21.09.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Immune cells may heal bleeding brain after strokes
21.09.2017 | NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>