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.
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.
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
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
A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
CWRU researchers find a chemical solution to shrink digital data storage
22.06.2017 | Case Western Reserve University
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.
New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
22.06.2017 | Life Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences