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.
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
Carsten Heckmann | Universität Leipzig
Dust pillars of destruction reveal impact of cosmic wind on galaxy evolution
28.07.2015 | Yale University
Treasure hunting in archive data reveals clues about black holes’ diet
23.07.2015 | Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Garching
Researchers have developed an ultrafast light-emitting device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.
Joint BioEnergy Institute study identifies bacterial protein that is key to protecting rice against bacterial blight
A bacterial signal that when recognized by rice plants enables the plants to resist a devastating blight disease has been identified by a multi-national team...
Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to delivering smart windows with a new level of energy efficiency, engineering materials that allow windows to reveal light without transferring heat and, conversely, to block light while allowing heat transmission, as described in two new research papers.
By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce costs for...
Argonne scientists used Mira to identify and improve a new mechanism for eliminating friction, which fed into the development of a hybrid material that exhibited superlubricity at the macroscale for the first time. Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) researchers helped enable the groundbreaking simulations by overcoming a performance bottleneck that doubled the speed of the team's code.
While reviewing the simulation results of a promising new lubricant material, Argonne researcher Sanket Deshmukh stumbled upon a phenomenon that had never been...
A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away.
The color images of Earth from NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) are generated by combining three separate images to create a...
23.07.2015 | Event News
10.07.2015 | Event News
25.06.2015 | Event News
28.07.2015 | Life Sciences
28.07.2015 | Materials Sciences
28.07.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation