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UK university has something to twist and shout about after 40-year search

Major research carried out by a UK university could lead to advancements in chemical manufacturing, miniaturisation and pharmaceuticals.

The research by the University of Bath was jointly funded by STFC, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and The Royal Society, and has seen physicists at the university observe a physical effect for the first time 40 years after it was predicted by theory.

The technique precisely measures the twist, or chirality, of molecules using lasers and is 100,000 times more sensitive than current standard methods. Chirality describes the orientation of molecules, which can exist in left or right ‘handed’ forms depending on how they twist in three dimensions. Many molecules essential to life, including DNA, amino acids and proteins, exhibit chirality and the ‘handedness’ can totally change their function or properties. Therefore knowing the chirality of a substance is often critically important.

Dr Ventsislav Valev, who leads the research group in the Department of Physics at the University of Bath, said: “We’ve demonstrated a new physical effect – you don’t get to say that every day. This is exactly why I got into science.”

More information on this research is available on the University of Bath website.


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