Navigation Links
Reproducing nature's chemistry: Researchers alter molecular properties in a new way
Date:8/29/2013

In their search for molecules with certain characteristics, chemists have produced millions of new, increasingly complex synthetic materials by altering molecules' chemical structures.

Taking cues from nature, Northwestern University researchers have recently tested a new method for achieving the molecular properties they seek: by changing the geometry of the surface to which molecules are bound.

"For years chemists have been making molecules to solve problems each one more synthetically complicated than the last but we still haven't come close to achieving what nature can do with much simpler chemistry,'" said Bartosz A. Grzybowski, Kenneth Burgess Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Chemistry at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. "Nature's most complex component of life, the protein, is made from only 21 simple amino acids. This research explores the idea that it's not the molecule you have that's important, it is how it interacts with its environment."

Using this idea, the researchers developed a technique in which a single type of molecule is placed on nanoparticles with two different regions of curvature. Although the molecules are atomically identical, they demonstrate unique chemical properties depending on what region of curvature they are bound to.

A paper describing the research, "Geometric Curvature Controls the Chemical Patchiness and Self-Assembly of Nanoparticles," was published August 18 in Nature Nanotechnology.

The researchers began by affixing molecules of a carboxylic acid at various points on several gold nanoparticles, some as small as five nanometers in diameter. Each nanoparticle possessed a different geometry. On nanoparticles exhibiting a greater curvature, the molecules were naturally spaced father apart; on nanoparticles with more gradual curvature, they were closer together.

The differences in curvature influences the distance between the molecules, making it possible for the researchers to induce so-called "patchiness" on cylindrical- and dumbbell-shaped nanoparticles. Essentially, the molecules can "feel" each other through repulsive electrostatic interactions and, as the carboxylic acids are depronated, the difficulty in adding more charges onto the nanoparticles is controlled by how crowded the molecules are. These "patchy" nanoparticles can interact and self-assemble directionally, mimicking chemical molecular bonds and, the researchers found, altering when the charge of these attached molecules changes.

"Changing molecular properties by altering environments instead of molecular structure could free scientists to accomplish more with a smaller library of already existing molecules, and could offer alternatives to chemical processes that often require toxic chemicals," said David Walker, a graduate student in McCormick's Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the paper's first author.

The curvature phenomenon is specific to the nano-scale, where most of the chemistry in biological systems is performed, and begins to fail for nanoparticles above 10 nanometers in diameter, the researchers said. "Larger particles have curvatures that are just too subtle for the molecules to feel the effect similar to how humans might perceive the Earth to be flat, even though we now know better," Walker said.

The researchers are currently working to extend the work to other classes of molecules that could be beneficial for catalysis and energy purposes.


'/>"/>

Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. IntelLiDrives XYZ Robot Helps Researchers to Develop Weather-resistant Crops
2. Researchers figure out how to grow carbon nanotubes with specific atomic structures
3. Opertech Bio Researchers Develop Method For High-Throughput Taste Evaluation
4. Sarcoma Alliance Announces Tissue Bank to Help Researchers
5. BioInformatics LLC—New Report Finds High Degree of Satisfaction With Instrumentation Performance Among Researchers
6. York Nanocentre researchers image individual atoms in a living catalytic reaction
7. Medrio, a Leading EDC Provider for Clinical Research, Announces Its Latest Version, 8.1 with iPad Support, is Available Without Charge for Academic Researchers
8. Researchers strike gold with nanotech vaccine
9. US and Canadian researchers drive towards cheaper fuel cells for electric cars
10. UCSB researchers identify the mechanisms underlying salt-mediated behaviors in fruit flies
11. UC Irvine researchers unveil AsterixDB for Big Data management
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/16/2017)...   Biostage, Inc. (Nasdaq: BSTG ... bioengineered organ implants to treat cancers and other life-threatening ... the closing on February 15, 2017 of its previously ... and warrants to purchase 20,000,000 shares of common stock, ... was priced at $0.40 per share of common stock, ...
(Date:2/16/2017)... DIEGO , Feb. 16, 2017  Dermata ... innovative products to treat a variety of dermatological ... million Series 1a financing and entered into a ... (SVB).  Dermata intends to use the capital for ... making major advancements in the treatment of serious ...
(Date:2/16/2017)... 2017  Windtree Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... aerosolized KL4 surfactant therapies for respiratory diseases, announced ... showed that aerosolized KL4 surfactant reduced lung inflammation ... animal model. The Company believes that these preclinical ... that supports the role of KL4 surfactant as ...
(Date:2/16/2017)... LAFAYETTE, Indiana (PRWEB) , ... ... ... division of Albany Molecular Research Inc. has further extended its industry leading ... This service offers state-of-the-art cGMP techniques and methods for the ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:2/6/2017)... , Feb. 6, 2017 According ... security are driving border authorities to continue to ... reports there are 2143 Automated Border Control (ABC) ... currently deployed at more than 163 ports of ... 2013 to 2016 achieving a combined CAGR of ...
(Date:2/3/2017)... , Feb. 3, 2017 A new independent ... Strategy Partners, LLP (IdSP) . Designed to fill a ... complex identity market, founding partners Mark Crego ... combined years just in identity expertise that span federal ... non-profit leadership. The Crego-Kephart combined expertise has a common ...
(Date:2/2/2017)... YORK , Feb. 2, 2017  EyeLock LLC, ... released a new white paper " What You Should ... The problem of ensuring user authenticity is a growing ... the authentication of users. However, traditional authentication schemes such ... Biometric authentication offers an elegant solution ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):