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Biological molecules select their spin
Date:3/31/2011

s fabricated self-assembling, single layers of DNA attached to a gold substrate. They then exposed the DNA to mixed groups of electrons with both directions of spin. Indeed, the team's results surpassed expectations: The biological molecules reacted strongly with the electrons carrying one of those spins, and hardly at all with the others. The longer the molecule, the more efficient it was at choosing electrons with the desired spin, while single strands and damaged bits of DNA did not exhibit this property. These findings imply that the ability to pick and choose electrons with a particular spin stems from the chiral nature of the DNA molecule, which somehow 'sets the preference' for the spin of electrons moving through it.

In fact, says Naaman, DNA turns out to be a superb 'spin filter,' and the team's findings could have relevance for both biomedical research and the field of spintronics. If further studies, for instance, bear out the finding that DNA only sustains damage from spins pointing in one direction, then exposure might be reduced and medical devices designed accordingly. On the other hand, DNA and other biological molecules could become a central feature of new types of spintronic devices, which will work on particle spin rather than electric charge, as they do today.


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Contact: Yivsam Azgad
news@weizmann.ac.il
972-893-43856
Weizmann Institute of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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