Scientists at USC and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab have discovered a new route by which a proton (a hydrogen atom that lost its electron) can move from one molecule to another – a basic component of countless chemical and biological reactions.
"This is a radically new way by which proton transfer may occur," said Anna Krylov, professor of chemistry at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Krylov is a co-corresponding author of a paper on the new process that was published online by Nature Chemistry on March 18.
Krylov and her colleagues demonstrated that protons are not obligated to travel along hydrogen bonds, as previously believed. The finding suggests that protons may move efficiently in stacked systems of molecules, which are common in plant biomass, membranes, DNA and elsewhere.
Armed with the new knowledge, scientists may be able to better understand chemical reactions involving catalysts, how biomass (plant material) can be used as a renewable fuel source, how melanin (which causes skin pigmentation) protects our bodies from the sun's rays, and damage to DNA.
"By better understanding how these processes operate at molecular level, scientists will be able to design new catalysts, better fuels, and more efficient drugs," Krylov said.
Hydrogen atoms are often shared between two molecules, forming a so-called hydrogen bond. This bond determines structures and properties of everything from liquid water to the DNA double helix and proteins.
Hydrogen bonds also serve as pathways by which protons may travel from one molecule to another, like a road between two houses. But what happens if there's no road?
To find out, Krylov and fellow corresponding author Ahmed Musahid of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab created a system in which two molecules were stacked on top of each other, without hydrogen bonds between them. Then they ionized one of the molecules to coax a proton to move from one place to another.
Ahmed and Krylov discovered that when there's no straight road between the two houses, the houses (molecules) can rearrange themselves so that their front doors are close together. In that way, the proton can travel from one to the other with no hydrogen bond – and with little energy. Then the molecules return to their original positions.
"We've come up with the picture of a new process," Krylov said.
This research was performed under the auspices of the iOpenShell Center and supported by the US Department of Energy, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and the National Science Foundation.
Robert Perkins | EurekAlert!
NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation
Pollen taxi for bacteria
18.07.2018 | Technische Universität München
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
18.07.2018 | Life Sciences
18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine