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Caltech chemists develop simple technique to visualize atomic-scale structures
Date:9/2/2010

't work," says Heath. He and his colleagues are now working to improve the resolution of the technique so that it could be used to image the atomic structure of biomolecules like antibodies and other proteins. "We have previously observed individual atoms in graphene using the scanning tunneling microscope," says Cao. "Similar resolution should also be attainable for graphene-covered molecules."

"We could drape graphene over biological moleculesincluding molecules in at least partially aqueous environments, because you can have water presentand potentially get their 3-D structure," Heath says. It may even be possible to determine the structure of complicated molecules, like proteinprotein complexes, "that are very difficult to crystallize," he says.

Whereas the data from one molecule might reveal the gross structure, data from 10 will reveal finer featuresand computationally assembling the data from 1,000 identical molecules might reveal every atomic nook and cranny.

If you imagine that graphene draped over a molecule is sort of like a sheet thrown over a sleeping cat on your bed, Heath explains, having one image of the sheet-covered lumpin one orientation"will tell you that it's a small animal, not a shoe. With 10 images, you can tell it's a cat and not a rabbit. With many more images, you'll know if it's a fluffy catalthough you won't ever see the tabby stripes."


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Contact: Kathy Svitil
ksvitil@caltech.edu
626-395-8022
California Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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