University of Copenhagen chemists get better window through which to peer inside molecules – University of Copenhagen

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23 February 2012

University of Copenhagen chemists get better window through which to peer inside molecules

If molecules could be seen with the naked eye, it would make life significantly easier for chemists. Chemical structure reveals much about their function. But with the right gear, crystallized chemicals will unveil what is otherwise invisible.

By Jes Andersen

Professor Sine Larsen of the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Chemistry has recently received a grant of just under four-million kroner from the VILLUM FOUNDATION for the purchase of two X-Ray Diffractometers, one for powder and another for single crystal diffraction. The two apparatus make it much easier for the professor and all her chemistry colleagues at the University to discern what substances they have created in their labs.

State of the art devices

Professor Larsen, who until recently was President of the International Union of Crystallography, sees the new analysis apparatus as a major step forward for the Department of Chemistry.

“So far, I have worn out five diffractometers in my career. Now we’ll be getting a new set, which technologically are very advanced and easier to use than the older models,” explains Sine Larsen.

Now even the structure of protein crystals will be revealed

Larsen is particularly excited about the fact that the single crystal diffraction will also be well-suited for analysing protein crystals. Understanding protein structure is absolutely central in the modern pharmaceutical research that the Department of Chemistry is involved so deeply with. The new apparatus makes it possible for Copenhagen chemists to avoid travelling abroad in order to use synchrotron installations when they need to look into proteins.

Foundation fond of supporting the sciences

The VILLUM FOUNDATION is a nonprofit, private foundation. The Foundation’s funds come from the VKR Group, which among other things produce VELUX roof windows, VELFAC façade windows and solar heating windows. In particular, the Foundation supports equipment procurement and research projects in the technical and natural sciences.