Quantum physics predict chemical reactions

September 15, 2005

Purdue University scientists say chemists trying to predict how complex biological molecules react with others may soon get help from quantum physics.

Using supercomputers to analyze the interplay of electrons around such molecules, physicists led by Purdue's Jorge Rodriguez have found the quantum property of electrons called "spin" must be considered to obtain a complete picture of how many biochemical reactions take place.

In particular, a class of metal-based proteins -- including hemoglobin and chlorophyll -- and their reactions in plants and animals, can be better understood with the technique.

Rodriguez said the discovery could help scientists with a number of practical problems, such as selecting the best potential new drug compounds from a vast group of candidates, a process that can cost pharmaceutical companies years of work and millions of dollars.

"Whereas we have had to be satisfied with observing the chemistry in living things and describing it afterward without complete understanding, we are developing computational tools that can predict what will happen between molecules before they meet in the test tube," said Rodriguez, an assistant professor of physics.

Two papers on the subject appear in this week's issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Quantum insulation: Intemperate atoms can't come to equilibrium

Related Stories

Surprisingly complex fingerprint of PAH molecules in space

November 17, 2015

Astronomers searching for interstellar PAH-molecules interpret their data incorrectly. This is concluded by researchers from the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the Leiden Observatory, the Radboud University and NASA Ames ...

Scientists predict cool new phase of superionic ice

October 21, 2015

Scientists have predicted a new phase of superionic ice, a special form of ice that could exist on Uranus and Neptune, in a theoretical study performed by a team of researchers at Princeton University.

Recommended for you

Making 3-D imaging 1,000 times better

December 1, 2015

MIT researchers have shown that by exploiting the polarization of light—the physical phenomenon behind polarized sunglasses and most 3-D movie systems—they can increase the resolution of conventional 3-D imaging devices ...

Which came first—the sponge or the comb jelly?

December 1, 2015

Bristol study reaffirms classical view of early animal evolution. Whether sponges or comb jellies (also known as sea gooseberries) represent the oldest extant animal phylum is of crucial importance to our understanding of ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.