High-speed atomic force microscopy takes on intrinsically disordered proteins

KANAZAWA, Japan, Dec. 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Kanazawa University’s pioneering high-speed atomic force microscope technology has now shed light on the structure and dynamics of some of life’s most ubiquitous and inscrutable molecules – intrinsically disordered proteins. The study is reported in Nature Nanotechnology.

Our understanding of biological proteins does not always correlate with how common or important they are. Half of all proteins, molecules that play an integral role in cell processes, are intrinsically disordered, which means many of the standard techniques for probing biomolecules don’t work on them. Now researchers at Kanazawa University in Japan have shown that their home-grown high-speed atomic force microscopy technology can provide information not just on the structures of these proteins but also their dynamics.

Understanding how a protein is put together provides valuable clues to its functions. The development of protein crystallography in the 1930s and 1950s brought several protein

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Method to predict the atomic structure of sodium-ion batteries

TU Delft formula brings green new battery closer to reality
Credit: TU Delft

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) have developed a method to predict the atomic structure of sodium-ion batteries. Until now, this was impossible even with the best supercomputers. The findings can significantly speed up research into sodium-ion batteries. As a result, this type of battery can become a serious technology next to the popular Li-ion batteries found in our smartphones, laptops and electric cars. The researchers have published their findings in the journal Science.

Mobile phones, laptops and electric cars all contain lithium-ion batteries. In terms of performance and energy density, these batteries are unrivaled. Yet the commercial dependence on one type of battery also has its disadvantages. Take cobalt, for example. So far, despite a great deal of research, producing lithium-ion batteries without this rare resource has not been possible. Cobalt is almost exclusively mined in Congo

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