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Terahertz Applications Group

Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology
Spectroscopy Research Featured on Cover of Angewandte Chemie

Recent work performed in collaboration with researchers at Syracuse University on connecting the terahertz vibrational motions of polyproline helices to their elasticity is featured on the cover of Angewandte Chemie.

The work, titled Measuring the Elasticity of Poly-l-Proline Helices with Terahertz Spectroscopy was highlighted on the cover of Angewandte Chemie. In the study, it was determined that the terahertz vibrational motions of two forms of poly-L-proline were prototypical spring-type motions. This led to the discovery that the vibrational force constants could be related to Young's modulus, yielding a new method for interpreting terahertz spectroscopic data. 

The research utilised a combination of experimental terahertz spectroscopy and powder X-ray diffraction, data that was then coupled to theoretical solid-state density functional theory simulations to ultimately yield the crystal structures and lattice dynamics of these materials in new detail. The results called into question the longstanding assumption that poly-L-proline helices are uniquely rigid, with the data suggesting that they are rather flexible compared to other biopolymers such as cellulose and poly-glycine. 

Overall this study highlights another utility of terahertz spectroscopy, expanding its capabilities and opening the door for further innovations.