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Siberian physicists learn to determine changes to molecular structure in real-time

Researchers from the Siberian Federal University (SFU) as a part of an international team have put forward a new method of investigation of complex molecular structures. This technique can be applied not only to static but also to dynamic (changing) structures, including biological systems.
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The method offers a potential opportunity not only to describe frozen structures of matter but also to track the structural dynamics in real time, which at present is almost out of reach using all other methods of analysis for analyzing the structure of matter.

The new approach implies the irradiation of two particles — donor and acceptor — with X-rays. Because of irradiation, an atom of a donor particle «energizes» an atom of an acceptor particle. As a result, the atom of the acceptor particle emits an electron, whose energy measurement makes it possible to determine the distance between atoms and their types. By doing so, the scientists retrieve data on the structure of the substance being tested.

The researchers described the theoretical model underlying the method, and conducted the first experimental observations on the synchrotron «SOLEIL» in France. In the future, the method can be used to analyze the structure of matter not only in static, but also in real time mode. That said the method is suitable also for complex biological systems.

The results of the study have been published in the Journal of Chemical Physics Letters.

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