The proposed project involves the new field of the interaction of very low energy ("cold") electrons with condensed molecules. The aim is to study (i) the breakdown of biomolecules, e.g. DNA (radiation damage) and (ii) biomolecule synthesis, e.g. aminoacids, in ices of e.g. water, ammonia, methanol etc. in the context of electron induced processing at the molecular level, relevant to DNA damage, nanoscience and astrobiology.
The project will further our ability to manipulate and control physico-chemical processes at the molecular level and how to control electron interactions in a new energy regime. Electron-induced processes will be extended into unexplored fields for Framework 6 in biology and nanoscience ERAs: studies of biomolecule irradiation have only been reported down to electron impact energies of ~1eV. The project concentrates on the energy range down to a few meV, where cross-sections for attachment may be much larger and damage effects may be greatly enhanced.
Using a synchrotron based cold electron source, DNA, oligonucleotides and their constituent molecules will be irradiated with electrons and the results analysed by gel electrophoresis and the novel technique of Atomic Force Microscopy, the latter to show conformational changes. Studies of the synthetic role of cold electrons arise from interest in the formation of biomolecules, e.g. aminoacids, around the early Sun and Earth and identified in meteorites.
The results of this work have spin-off in nanofabrication in bio-nanotechnology. After two years, the expertise of the applicant in the techniques of the handling of biomaterials, in electron physics, in many related technical issues, will be greatly enhanced, leaving the applicant with excellent prospects for a future career in research. The new input that both parties, host and researcher, will gain from each other will stimulate the advancement of the field, generating novel approaches in the innovative topics of the proposed project.
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call