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IBEC group develops a nanoscale imaging method that shows electron transfer pathways

By 24 de July de 2017No Comments
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Top: Simultaneous high-resolution images: the new method, DECC, is on the right (Source: IBEC).

IBEC group develops a nanoscale imaging method that shows electron transfer pathways

An IBEC group at the Barcelona Science Park has developed a new imaging method that can characterize the conductance of single molecules, shedding light on the molecular mechanisms behind biological processes such as respiration, photosynthesis and repair. Publishing in the journal Small, the Nanoprobes and Nanoswitches group describe a new way to observe conduction pathways in redox proteins and complexes – in which the transfer of electrons causes a change in oxidation – at the nanoscale.


Electron transfer in proteins is essential in crucial biological processes; cellular respiration, for example, is the oxidation of glucose to CO2 and the reduction of oxygen to water. But even though the basic aspects of electron transfer have been studied thoroughly, so far there has been no tool able to examine the nanoscale electronic pathways by which this transfer happens.

A l’article, publicat a la revista Small, el grup de l’IBEC descriu una nova forma d’observar les vies de conducció en les proteïnes i complexos redox – en les quals la transferència d’electrons causa un canvi d’oxidació – a la nanoescala. En particular, els investigadors van ser capaços de veure les regions submoleculars amb alta conductància que actuen com a vies per a la transferència d’electrons dins de la proteïna. A més de permetre importants avanços en bioquímica i bionanotecnologia, aquest mètode també obrirà noves possibilitats per al disseny i optimització de l’electrònica molecular, on els compostos sintètics són components per a la construcció de dispositius nanoelectrònics.

The IBEC group, experts in electrochemical scanning tunneling microscopy, added an alternating current modulation technique to this special kind of microscopy that allowed them to measure the local electronic properties of an electrode, as well as the redox processes occurring at the interface of the electrode and the immersing solution. “This method, Differential Electrochemical Conductance (DECC) imaging, has allowed us to see the reversible oxidation of an iron electrode at the nanoscale,” says first author Montserrat López, a PhD student in ICREA professor Pau Gorostiza’s Nanoprobes and Nanoswitches group. 

► More informationIBEC website [+]

► Reference article: M. López-Martínez, J. M. Artés, V. Sarasso, M. Carminati, I. Díez-Pérez, F. Sanz, P. Gorostiza. “Differential Electrochemical Conductance Imaging at the Nanoscale“.  Small 2017. DOI: 10.1002/smll.201700958