Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Breaking a chemical bond


A new theory for the breaking of (bio-)chemical bonds under load may help to predict the strength and performance of synthetic nanostructures and proteins, on a molecular level. Theoretical physicists from Leipzig University have published their findings in „Nature Communications“.

The fundamental question how a molecular bond breaks is of interest in many fields of science and has been studied extensively. Yet, now writing in Nature Communications, a group of theoretical physicists from the University of Leipzig, Germany, has put forward a more powerful analytical formula for forcible bond breaking than previously available.

The illustration schematically depicts a protein structure and rupture force distributions of one of its macromolecular bonds under load for two different loading rates.

Graph: Leipzig University, Institute of Theoretical Physics

It predicts how likely a bond will break at a given load, if probed with a prescribed loading protocol. This so-called rupture force distribution is the most informative and most commonly measured quantity in modern single-molecule force spectroscopy experiments (which may roughly be thought of as nanoscopic versions of the conventional crash- or breaking tests employed in materials science and engineering).

Such experiments are nowadays performed in large numbers in molecular biology and biophysics labs to probe the mechanical strength of individual macromolecular bonds.

Recent methodological advances have pushed force spectroscopy assays to ever higher loading rates (the equivalent of the speed employed in the macroscopic crash-test). This provided a strong incentive for the Leipzig team to improve on current state-of-the-art theories for forcible bond breaking, which are limited to comparatively low speeds.

Moreover, the new equation solves another problem that has bothered experts in the field for many years. Force spectroscopy experiments are often simulated with sophisticated all-atom computer models to supplement the experimental data with information on internal molecular details that cannot be resolved in a laboratory setting.

However, because of their enormous complexity, such computer simulations operate at extremely high loading rates to cut down on the runtime. As a consequence, simulation and experiment were so far two essentially distinct branches of force spectroscopy.

The new equation, which gives exact results for both low and high loading rates, will thus suit both experimentalists and computer scientists, and help them to systematically analyze and compare their results.

This should eventually improve our microscopic understanding of the strength of synthetic materials and of how proteins attain and maintain their three-dimensional structure and perform conformational changes, which are core features determining the function and dysfunction of these amazing engines of life.

Article in „Nature Communications”:
„Theory of rapid force spectroscopy“,
by Jakob T. Bullerjahn, Sebastian Sturm and Klaus Kroy

Prof. Dr. Klaus Kroy
Phone: +49 341 97 32436

Weitere Informationen:

Carsten Heckmann | Universität Leipzig

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New method will enable most accurate neutron measurement yet
02.10.2015 | Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI)

nachricht An easier way to operate and program multitasking machines
30.09.2015 | Siemens AG

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New Sinumerik features improve productivity and precision

EMO 2015, Hall 3, Booth E06/F03

  • Drive optimization called automatically by the part program boosts productivity
  • Automatically switching the dynamic values to rapid traverse and interpolation...

Im Focus: LZH presents additive manufacturing at the LABVOLUTION

The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will present how laser-based technologies can contribute to the laboratory of the future at the LABVOLUTION in Hannover in Hall 9, Stand E67/09, from October 6th to 8th, 2015. As a part of the model lab smartLAB, the LZH is showing how additive manufacturing, better known as 3-D printing, can make experimental setups more flexible.

Twelve partners from science and industry are presenting an intelligent and innovative model lab at the special display smartLAB. A part of this intelligent...

Im Focus: New polymer creates safer fuels

Before embarking on a transcontinental journey, jet airplanes fill up with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. In the event of a crash, such large quantities of fuel increase the severity of an explosion upon impact.

Researchers at Caltech and JPL have discovered a polymeric fuel additive that can reduce the intensity of postimpact explosions that occur during accidents and...

Im Focus: 3-D printing techniques help surgeons carve new ears

When surgical residents need to practice a complicated procedure to fashion a new ear for children without one, they typically get a bar of soap, carrot or an apple.

To treat children with a missing or under-developed ear, experienced surgeons harvest pieces of rib cartilage from the child and carve them into the framework...

Im Focus: Walk the line

NASA studies physical performance after spaceflight

Walking an obstacle course on Earth is relatively easy. Walking an obstacle course on Earth after being in space for six months is not quite as simple. The...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Infrared thermography can detect joint inflammation and help improving work ergonomics

02.10.2015 | Medical Engineering

Semiconductor nanoparticles show high luminescence in a polymer matrix

02.10.2015 | Materials Sciences

New Sinumerik features improve productivity and precision

02.10.2015 | Trade Fair News

More VideoLinks >>>