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Better insight into molecular interactions

"Basically we are looking at how atoms and molecules interact in biochemical materials in solution", says Professor Dr. Emad Flear Aziz, leader of the Young Investigator Group for Functional Materials in Solution at the HZB and Professor at Freie Universitt Berlin. Their now published work is based on a discovery by Aziz' team made three years before: They then analyzed samples with x-ray spectroscopy and observed the disappearance of photons at some specific photon energy. These results have been replicated by other teams worldwide. To explain this effect, Aziz and colleagues proposed a "dark channel mechanism", which should provide information about binding processes and interactions between atoms or molecules. This explanation stirred a big debate among scientists.

Now they have gathered arms with theoretical physicists around Professor Oliver Khn from the University of Rostock in order to get a coherent picture: Aziz' team sharpened the experimental methods further using a new approach to high resolution spectroscopy. In order to understand, how the spectral findings are linked to binding and structural processes inside the sample, Oliver Khn and his postdoc Sergey Bokarev provided a theoretical tool, based on ab initio calculations of energy levels inside the molecules. "We can map all electronic states in the systems we probe, and we can distinguish those which are involved in building bonds with neighbors from those which are not involved", Aziz explains. Metaphorically speaking: if the interacting molecules produce a sort of party chatter, the scientists are now able to listen to specific conversations. They are convinced that these new tools will bring deeper insights into the chemistry of life.


Contact: Emad Flear Aziz
Helmholtz Association

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