25 research outputs found

    New Light on Molecular and Materials Complexity: 4D Electron Imaging

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    In this Perspective, 4D electron imaging is highlighted, after introducing some concepts, with an overview of selected applications that span chemical reactions, molecular interfaces, phase transitions, and nano(micro)mechanical systems. With the added dimension of time in microscopy, diffraction, and electron-energy-loss spectroscopy, the focus is on direct visualization of structural dynamics with atomic and nanoscale resolution in the four dimensions of space and time. This contribution provides an expose of emerging developments and an outlook on future applications in materials and biological sciences

    4D electron imaging: principles and perspectives

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    In this perspective we highlight developments and concepts in the field of 4D electron imaging. With spatial and temporal resolutions reaching the picometer and femtosecond, respectively, the field is now embracing ultrafast electron diffraction, crystallography and microscopy. Here, we overview the principles involved in the direct visualization of structural dynamics with applications in chemistry, materials science and biology. The examples include the studies of complex isolated chemical reactions, phase transitions and cellular structures. We conclude with an outlook on the potential of the approach and with some questions that may define new frontiers of research

    Structural ultrafast dynamics of macromolecules: diffraction of free DNA and effect of hydration

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    Of special interest in molecular biology is the study of structural and conformational changes which are free of the additional effects of the environment. In the present contribution, we report on the ultrafast unfolding dynamics of a large DNA macromolecular ensemble in vacuo for a number of temperature jumps, and make a comparison with the unfolding dynamics of the DNA in aqueous solution. A number of coarse-graining approaches, such as kinetic intermediate structure (KIS) model and ensemble-averaged radial distribution functions, are used to account for the transitional dynamics of the DNA without sacrificing the structural resolution. The studied ensembles of DNA macromolecules were generated using distributed molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, and the ensemble convergence was ensured by monitoring the ensemble-averaged radial distribution functions and KIS unfolding trajectories. Because the order–disorder transition in free DNA implies unzipping, coiling, and strand-separation processes which occur consecutively or competitively depending on the initial and final temperature of the ensemble, DNA order–disorder transition in vacuo cannot be described as a two-state (un)folding process

    Structural Dynamics of Free Proteins in Diffraction

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    Among the macromolecular patterns of biological significance, right-handed α-helices are perhaps the most abundant structural motifs. Here, guided by experimental findings, we discuss both ultrafast initial steps and longer-time-scale structural dynamics of helix-coil transitions induced by a range of temperature jumps in large, isolated macromolecular ensembles of an α-helical protein segment thymosin β_9 (Tβ_9), and elucidate the comprehensive picture of (un)folding. In continuation of an earlier theoretical work from this laboratory that utilized a simplistic structure-scrambling algorithm combined with a variety of self-avoidance thresholds to approximately model helix-coil transitions in Tβ_9, in the present contribution we focus on the actual dynamics of unfolding as obtained from massively distributed ensemble-convergent MD simulations which provide an unprecedented scope of information on the nature of transient macromolecular structures, and with atomic-scale spatiotemporal resolution. In addition to the use of radial distribution functions of ultrafast electron diffraction (UED) simulations in gaining an insight into the elementary steps of conformational interconversions, we also investigate the structural dynamics of the protein via the native (α-helical) hydrogen bonding contact metric which is an intuitive coarse graining approach. Importantly, the decay of α-helical motifs and the (globular) conformational annealing in Tβ_9 occur consecutively or competitively, depending on the magnitude of temperature jump

    Perspective: 4D ultrafast electron microscopy—Evolutions and revolutions

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    In this Perspective, the evolutionary and revolutionary developments of ultrafast electron imaging are overviewed with focus on the “single-electron concept” for probing methodology. From the first electron microscope of Knoll and Ruska [Z. Phys. 78, 318 (1932)], constructed in the 1930s, to aberration-corrected instruments and on, to four-dimensional ultrafast electron microscopy (4D UEM), the developments over eight decades have transformed humans’ scope of visualization. The changes in the length and time scales involved are unimaginable, beginning with the micrometer and second domains, and now reaching the space and time dimensions of atoms in matter. With these advances, it has become possible to follow the elementary structural dynamics as it unfolds in real time and to provide the means for visualizing materials behavior and biological functions. The aim is to understand emergent phenomena in complex systems, and 4D UEM is now central for the visualization of elementary processes involved, as illustrated here with examples from past achievements and future outlook

    Unfolding and melting of DNA (RNA) hairpins: the concept of structure-specific 2D dynamic landscapes

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    A 2D free-energy landscape model is presented to describe the (un)folding transition of DNA/RNA hairpins, together with molecular dynamics simulations and experimental findings. The dependence of the (un)folding transition on the stem sequence and the loop length is shown in the enthalpic and entropic contributions to the free energy. Intermediate structures are well defined by the two coordinates of the landscape during (un)zipping. Both the free-energy landscape model and the extensive molecular dynamics simulations totaling over 10 s predict the existence of temperature-dependent kinetic intermediate states during hairpin (un)zipping and provide the theoretical description of recent ultrafast temperature-jump studies which indicate that hairpin (un)zipping is, in general, not a two-state process. The model allows for lucid prediction of the collapsed state(s) in simple 2D space and we term it the kinetic intermediate structure (KIS) model

    14-19 education reform under New Labour : an exploration of how politics and the economy combine with educational goals to affect policy

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    The area of 14-19 education and training was a significant priority for the Labour Government of Tony Blair and New Labour. Reforms such as the 14-19 White Paper (Feb 2005) were seen as key to this government’s ‘third term’ agenda. This research has at its heart the desire to identify the true drivers for 14-19 education and training reform, and critically analyse the results against alternative ‘aims’ of education. Much of current policy for this phase of education mentions the economic imperative of providing young people with the skills which both they and businesses need to compete in the global economy. This research intends to question the fact that economic goals appear to be inexorably entwined with this area of education, and analyse if this is an appropriate philosophy on which to base reform of the 14-19 phase. To achieve this, document analysis was used to identify the drivers for education reform contained within five policy documents in an attempt to understand the goals of New Labour’s 14- 19 education and training reform policy between May 1997 and February 2005. The conclusions which came from this analysis point to a consistency in the 14-19 reform programme of New Labour around the theme of the economy, with much of the content of the reforms focusing on adapting the phase in order to promote economic objectives. It is argued that by accepting economic objectives as a basis for educational reform, New Labour confused the influence of the economy for an educational aim
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