A molecule that exhibits a specific property associated with all life on Earth has been discovered in interstellar space for the first time. Displaying the quality of chirality, or "handedness", this molecule has a distinct one-way molecular geometry found only in biological building blocks like amino acids, proteins, and enzymes. This discovery may help provide answers to the origins of homochirality, whereby all a substance's molecules are of the same chiral form, and why it appears so important for biology.Read More
As electronic devices become ever more complex, and the densities of components in those devices increases exponentially, we are rapidly approaching the day when the limitations of Moore's Law will be realized. In an effort to avert this eventuality, research has concentrated on moving away from traditional silicon technologies and into the realms of molecule-sized components and alternative materials. In this vein, researchers at the University of Georgia (UGA) and Ben-Gurion University in Israel have, for the first time, created a nanoscale electronic diode from a single DNA molecule.
Sometimes, if you want something made right, you've just got to make it yourself. That could certainly be the case when using molecules to construct microscopic devices such as medication-delivering nano-robots. It was with such applications in mind that scientists from ETH Zurich and IBM recently developed a process for building custom molecules from mix-n-match components.Read More
Prebiotic compounds that promote the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, can be traced back billions of years to their origins in the primordial goo – a rich soup of compounds from which all organic life on Earth is theorized to have begun. Now, scientists at Australia's CSIRO have discovered just how good a rich broth of these early molecules may be at improving the acceptance of implanted medical devices in the human body.Read More
Astronomers have discovered large quantities of alcohol and sugar, as well as the presence of complex organic molocules, on the comet Lovejoy. The observations, made by the 30 meter (98 ft) radio telescope at Pico Veleta, Spain, support the theory that comets may have played an important role in the formation of life on Earth.
In the pursuit of ever-shrinking circuitry for nanotechnology electronics, increasingly smaller devices and components are being developed. Now researchers at the University of Konstanz and the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) claim to have micro-miniaturized the humble electrical switch all the way down to molecule size and proven its operation for the very first time. Unable to flick such a tiny switch mechanically, however, the researchers instead used light to turn it on. Read More
The synthesis of complex small molecules in the laboratory is specialized and intricate work that is both difficult and time-consuming. Even highly-trained chemists can take many years to determine how to build each one, let alone discover and describe its functions. In an attempt to improve this situation, a team of chemists at the University of Illinois claim to have created a machine that is able to assemble a vast range of complex molecules at the push of a button.Read More
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) group of radio telescopes have discovered a carbon-based molecule with a branched structure – a common feature in molecules that are required for life to form. Contained within a giant gas cloud in the star-forming region of Sagittarius B2, the molecule of isopropyl cyanide is the first hint that other complex molecules may form in space before finding their way to the surface of planets. Read More
Buckyballs (or Buckminsterfullerene), the soccer ball-like structures of 60 carbon atoms, have a new playmate. Previously only theorized, researchers from Brown University in the US and Shanxi and Tsinghua Universities in China have been the first to experimentally observe a boron "buckyball."Read More
While two-dimensional modeling of double-stranded DNA molecules has been useful for the purpose of cancer research, the composition of the G-quadruplex, a four-stranded DNA sequence, has proven a different beast. A 3D printing lab at the University of Alabama has successfully produced a physical model of its molecular structure, improving understanding of its makeup and potentially, helping develop a treatment for pancreatic cancer. Read More
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