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Glenbard East High School ESRP 2017

The Self-Assembly and Chirality of Histidine on a Copper (111) Substrate


  • Students:
    • Anne Carani
    • Dominic Covelli
    • David Crossland
    • Jessica Cuthbert
    • Schuyler Roberts
    • Christopher Turner
  • Teachers:
    • Karen Beardsley
  • Mentors:
    • Nathan Guisinger (Argonne National Laboratory, Center For Nanoscale Materials)

Center for Nanoscale Materials

The exploration of molecular self-assembly of biological molecules can provide insight into an array of biological processes that occur throughout nature. Amino acids are chiral molecules, which, in nature, are only present in the left-handed orientation (L enantiomer). It is hoped that increasing the understanding of amino acid molecular self assembly L and D (right-handed orientation) enantiomers can lead to advancements in pharmaceuticals, medical nanoscale diagnostics, and even the understanding of the origins of life on Earth. This study investigated the molecular self assembly of the amino acid histidine on Cu(111). Using Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM), necessary for its capability to image at atomic resolution, we sought to determine if there were similarities between previously characterized amino acid superstructure assemblies to that of histidine on Cu(111). We found that, like many other amino acids, histidine formed chiral superstructures. The superstructure assemblies included trimers, chains, and dog bone” formations. Chiral angles were measured at about 15 degrees.

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