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Education and Outreach Programs

Romeoville High School ESRP 2018

Atomic-Scale Imaging of Phenylalanine Self-Assembly on a Copper Surface


  • Students:
    • Sebastian De La Torre
    • Corinne Doty
    • Teigan Glenke
    • Eric Nelson
    • Dionora Osmani
    • Ashley Pitt
    • Justin Vollmuth
    • Sorie Yillah
  • Teachers:
    • Tina Paulus (Romeoville High School)
    • Sandrine Clairardin (Romeoville High School)
  • Mentors:
    • Nathan Guisinger (Argonne National Laboratory, Center for Nanoscale Materials)

Beamline: Center for Nanoscale Materials

The purpose of this project was to investigate the self-assembly of phenylalanine, a chiral amino acid, using scanning tunneling microscopy. Chiral amino acids have L- and D- forms, and current research is working to determine why one of these two forms is used more predominantly than the other in nature. The goal of studying chiral forms separately, as well as in a racemic mixture, is to determine if the different forms selectively self-assemble. Our hypothesis is that the selective self-assembly of chiral amino acids is the explanation as to why L-forms of chiral amino acids are the primary form in life. In our experiment, we have found evidence of self-assembly in phenylalanine.

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