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Experimental investigation of physico-chemical effects of low-energy electron interaction with isolated, clustered and self-assembled biomolecules (Low-energy electrons)
Start date: Mar 1, 2008, End date: Feb 29, 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The proposed study will focus on effects of low-energy electron interaction with isolated amino acids and short peptides deposited on lipid bilayers mimicking the cellular membrane, as well as on oligonucleotides and on DNA. Owing to the simple structure of phospholipids, they present a geometrically and physico-chemically well-defined biomolecular array and potentially an ideal matrix for homogenous distribution of amino-acids, nucleotides, DNA, and RNA chains, with or without presence of water. By finding the probability for the temporary electron attachment to amino acids, oligonucleotides and DNA molecules and observing and quantifying the effects of vibrational and/or electronic excitation when molecules are combined into more complex structure, the proposed research will be advancing the knowledge in Physics, Chemistry and Biology and will be relevant for nanotechnology in their quest for new materials and creation of electronic molecular devices. The analysis of damage products (radicals) from the interaction of electrons and ion radicals with short oligonucleotides and DNA deposited on lipid films in the presence of specific amino acids will be performed aiming to possibly tracking the path of proton transfer and oxygen radical in the substrate after irradiation by electrons. An important aspect of the proposed research is investigation of the role of water in the processes of resonance formation and fragmentation of lipids and other biomolecules deposited on a lipid substrate. Measurements will be performed using several experimental techniques: Electron Energy Loss spectroscopy (Time-of-Flight measurements of the spatial and temporal distribution of electrons reflected from the sample and transmitted current measurements), X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (using micro-beams; synchrotron installation), High Performance Liquid Chromatography, and gel electrophoreses. Atomic Force Microscopy and Scanning Tunneling Microscopy images will be used in addition.

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