Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research team from Münster develops innovative catalytic chemistry process

03.09.2015

Inspired by the chemistry of the eye: Münster University chemists have succeeded in turning to their advantage a chemical reaction which takes place in the eye and enables us to see light and dark. It can be used to create important carbon compounds which need a lot of energy to be produced by other means.

Nature can do it, and chemists in the lab often dream of doing it: producing substances simply and ecologically – as far as possible without any undesirable side-products.


Inspiration to the chemists: the eye

Photo: Colourbox.de/A. Tiplyashin (Permission for photo use only in connection with this press release and with indication of photo credit)

A team of researchers from Münster University has now succeeded in turning to its advantage a chemical reaction which takes place in the eye and enables us to see light and dark.

This process, say the researchers, is of great interest for the chemical industry because it could be used to create special variants (isomers) of important carbon compounds which need a lot of energy to be produced by other means.

In the eye, the light-absorbing pigment rhodopsin plays an elementary role as a light sensor. When light enters the eye, rhodopsin triggers a chemical signal chain, thereby activating the photoreceptor cells. “We were inspired by this process,” says Jan Metternich, a doctoral student of chemistry who carried out the study together with Dr. Ryan Gilmour, Professor of Chemical Biology in the “Cells in Motion” Cluster of Excellence at Münster University.

One of the central components of the light-absorbing pigment rhodopsin is retinal (“Vitamin A”). To activate the photoreceptor cells, however, a very special variant of the retinal molecule is needed. As a result of light entering the eye, it is converted into a second, very similar form, thereby starting off the chemical signal chain. “Isomers” are what chemists call the different forms of a molecule.

“The selective formation of isomers is important not only for our ability to see, but also, for example, for the production of medicines, and agrochemicals,” says Ryan Gilmour. “Our innovative method has provided us with a simple way of selectively producing these valuable isomers that are needed for both academic and industrial chemistry.”

The reaction is triggered by light – just as in the eye. The so-called catalyst which the reactions require – which increases the speed of the reaction – is a cheap and ecological molecule: riboflavin, a B vitamin which is also used, for example, as a food colour additive.

Original literature:

Jan B. Metternich and Ryan Gilmour (2015): A Bio-Inspired, Catalytic E → Z Isomerization of Activated Olefin. J. Am. Chem. Soc.; DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b07136

Weitere Informationen:

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/jacs.5b07136 Original publication
http://www.uni-muenster.de/Cells-in-Motion/de/people/all/gilmour-r.php CiM Professor Ryan Gilmour

Dr. Christina Heimken | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>