19-Nov-2018 - Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

Why geckos can stick to walls

It enables geckos to adhere to walls and ceilings, is involved in the formation of membranes in cells as well as in the docking of drugs to enzymes in the human body. Dispersion, i.e. the "weak interaction", is omnipresent in chemistry. A team of scientists at Jacobs University Bremen headed by Dean and Chemistry Professor Dr. Werner Nau has now succeeded for the first time in experimentally quantifying the "London Dispersion", named after the German physicist Fritz London, in solution.

The scientific work on the project started more than three years ago and dates back to a priority program of the German Research Foundation (DFG) in which working groups from various universities throughout Germany are involved. In addition to the University of Leipzig and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), scientists from the USA, Israel and England were also involved in the research project. The international cooperation was coordinated by Jacobs University, where the groundbreaking experiments were also carried out.

"It was a particular challenge to distinguish the dispersion interaction from other interactions," says Nau. This is easy to distinguish between attractive and repulsive effects, but difficult for effects within a group. There are a number of competing attractive interactions such as electrostatic or hydrophobic ones. The scientists have developed a system that allows their differentiation. "By using noble gases such as helium, neon and xenon, we were ultimately able to isolate the dispersion force," explains Nau.

These findings from basic research are important, for example, in the development of new drugs or for hydrogen storage materials. It has also been discovered that an interaction that has so far received little attention, namely the energy required to displace solvent molecules, plays a much more important role than previously thought.

The scientific journal "Nature Chemistry", published in Great Britain, is regarded as one of the most important and respected publications in its field. Nau and his team are continuing their research on dispersion, and this year the DFG project was extended once again, now covering two funding periods with a total volume of more than 600,000 euros. The future focus will also be on systems for binding methane using dispersion, which in turn is important for the next generation of energy-storage technologies.

Facts, background information, dossiers

  • London Dispersion
  • xenon
  • neon

More about Jacobs University

  • News

    The 136 Million Atom-Model

    The conversion of sunlight into chemical energy is essential for life. In one of the largest simulations of a biosystem worldwide, scientists have mimicked his complex process for a component of a bacterium - on the computer, atom by atom. The work, which has now been published in the journ ... more

    Making better use of enzymes

    In biocatalysis, enzymes are used to accelerate chemical reactions. This plays a role in many areas, such as the production of beer, wine and cheese or the pharmaceutical industry. A research project at the English-medium Jacobs University led by Marcelo Fernandez-Lahore, Professor of Bioch ... more

    Recipe from the nanoworld for cleaner drinking water

    Too much manure, too much fertilizer: In many places in Germany, intensive agriculture is endangering water quality. The nitrate levels in groundwater are too high. A research team at Jacobs University led by the Chemistry Professor Ulrich Kortz has now discovered a new way in the lab to re ... more

  • q&more articles

    Chlorogenic acids in coffee

    Chlorogenic acids (CGAs) are, by definition, esters formed from hydroxycinnamic acids and quinic acid. As such, they are produced by almost all plant species as secondary metabolites. In our diet, we take up substantial amounts of this class of compounds – around 1 g per day, in extreme cas ... more

  • Authors

    Prof. Dr. Nikolai Kuhnert

    Nikolai Kuhnert, born in 1967, studied Chemistry at Würzburg University (Germany) and earned his PhD in 1995 in the field of Inorganic Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Biology. After holding further positions in England (Cambridge, Oxford and Guildford), he has been working as Professor of Anal ... more

    Dr. Sabur Badmos

    Sabur Badmos, born in 1977, studied Biochemistry at the Universities of Lagos and Ibadan in Nigeria. He completed his PhD at Jacobs University Bremen (Germany) as a member of the working group led by Nikolai Kuhnert. His research interests lie in the field of analytical chemistry, with a pa ... more

q&more – the networking platform for quality excellence in lab and process

The q&more concept is to increase the visibility of recent research and innovative solutions, and support the exchange of knowledge. In the broad spectrum of subjects covered, the focus is on achieving maximum quality in highly innovative sectors. As a modern knowledge platform, q&more offers market participants one-of-a-kind networking opportunities. Cutting-edge research is presented by authors of international repute. Attractively presented in a high-quality context, and published in German and English, the original articles introduce new concepts and highlight unconventional solution strategies.

> more about q&more

q&more is supported by: