Lights, camera, action: watching dynamic molecular interactions in motion
Chirality is an interesting property of many biological molecules in which the mirror images – the same atoms attached to the same places – cannot be superimposed. Human hands are an example of this – mirror images in which the pinkie gets superimposed on the thumb when you put one hand on top of the other. Polarised light can probe chiral molecules with great structural sensitivity, and it is widely used to study biologically important molecules such as proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates and drugs. The EU-funded CHIRALSCOPY project is combining this highly sensitive structural probing technique with ultrafast optical spectroscopy to enable "movies" of structural changes during chemical reactions and biological processes.