New tools catch and release molecules at the flip of a light switch

A Princeton team has developed a class of light-switchable, highly adaptable molecular tools with new capabilities to control cellular activities. The antibody-like proteins, called OptoBinders, allow researchers to rapidly control processes inside and outside of cells by directing their localization, with potential applications including protein purification, the improved production of biofuels, and new types of

A nanomaterial path forward for COVID-19 vaccine development

From mRNA vaccines entering clinical trials, to peptide-based vaccines and using molecular farming to scale vaccine production, the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing new and emerging nanotechnologies into the frontlines and the headlines. Nanoengineers at UC San Diego detail the current approaches to COVID-19 vaccine development, and highlight how nanotechnology has enabled these advances, in a

The cosmic commute towards star and planet formation

The molecular gas in galaxies is organised into a hierarchy of structures. The molecular material in giant molecular gas clouds travels along intricate networks of filamentary gas lanes towards the congested centres of gas and dust where it is compressed into stars and planets, much like the millions of people commuting to cities for work

Quantum diamond sensing

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is a widely used tool for chemical analysis and molecular structure recognition. Because it typically relies on the weak magnetic fields produced by a small thermal nuclear spin polarization, NMR suffers from poor sensitivity compared to other analytical techniques. A conventional NMR apparatus typically uses large sample volumes of about

Molecular containers for the sequestration of neurotransmitter drugs in water

Molecular containers that remove drugs, toxins, or malodorous substances from the environment are called sequestering agents. Scientists have developed a class of molecular containers that specifically sequester neurotransmitter antagonists. The barrel-shaped molecules called Pillar[n]MaxQ bind neuromuscular blocking chemicals 100,000-fold more tightly than established macrocyclic detoxification agents, the researchers report in the journal Angewandte Chemie. Molecular

Scientists aim gene-targeting breakthrough against COVID-19

A team of scientists from Stanford University is working with researchers at the Molecular Foundry, a nanoscience user facility located at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), to develop a gene-targeting, antiviral agent against COVID-19. Last year, Stanley Qi, an assistant professor in the departments of bioengineering, and chemical and systems

Tiny, self-assembling traps capture dangerous pollutants, PFAS

University at Buffalo chemists have shown that self-assembling molecular traps can be used to capture PFAS — dangerous pollutants that have contaminated drinking water supplies around the world. The traps are made from iron-based and organic building blocks that connect, like Legos, to form a tetrahedral cage. Experiments showed that these structures bind to certain

Scientists reveal solar system’s oldest molecular fluids could hold the key to early life

The oldest molecular fluids in the solar system could have supported the rapid formation and evolution of the building blocks of life, new research in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals. An international group of scientists, led by researchers from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and co-authors from McMaster University and

Carbon chains adopt fusilli or spaghetti shapes if they have odd or even numbers

Helical shapes are very familiar in the natural world and, at the molecular level, of DNA, the very blueprint of life itself. Scientists at the University of Bristol have now found that carbon chains can also adopt helical shapes, but, unlike DNA, the shape is dependent on how many atoms there are in the chain,