13 June 2024
Molecules exhibit non-reciprocal interactions without external forces

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In a groundbreaking discovery, scientists from the University of Maine and Penn State have found that molecules can engage in non-reciprocal interactions, defying conventional physics principles, even in the absence of external forces. This astonishing revelation challenges our understanding of molecular behavior and opens up new possibilities in the realm of science.

Molecules exhibit non-reciprocal interactions without external forces, new study finds



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Hey there, science enthusiasts! Today, we’re going to dive into a fascinating new study that explores how molecules can interact with each other in a non-reciprocal way, even without any external forces acting upon them. This research, conducted by scientists from the University of Maine and Penn State, sheds light on the complex behavior of molecules and could have significant implications for understanding the evolution of life itself. So, let’s get started!

The mystery of non-reciprocal interactions

In our everyday experience, we often observe interactions between objects that don’t seem to follow the typical reciprocal law. For example, a predator may be attracted to its prey, while the prey tends to flee from the predator. These non-reciprocal interactions are crucial for the complex behavior we see in living organisms. But how do molecules, at the microscopic level, exhibit such behavior without the influence of external forces?

A new mechanism revealed

Previous explanations for non-reciprocal interactions in microscopic systems, like bacteria, involved external forces such as hydrodynamics. However, the recent study by the University of Maine and Penn State researchers presents a different mechanism. They discovered that single molecules can interact non-reciprocally through the local gradients of reactants and products created by chemical reactions facilitated by catalysts, like enzymes.

The role of kinetic asymmetry

The “Eureka moment” for the researchers came when they realized that a property of every catalyst, known as kinetic asymmetry, controls the direction of response to a concentration gradient. This means that one molecule can be repelled by another molecule while attracting a different molecule. Kinetic asymmetry is a property of the catalyst itself, which can evolve and adapt over time. These non-reciprocal interactions allowed by kinetic asymmetry are essential for molecules to interact with each other and may have played a critical role in the development of complex matter and the evolution of life.

Implications for future research

This groundbreaking research builds on earlier work that explored the directional motion of catalyst molecules in a concentration gradient. The same kinetic asymmetry that determines non-reciprocal interactions between catalysts has also been shown to be important for the directionality of biomolecular machines. This knowledge could be utilized in the design of synthetic molecular motors and pumps, opening up exciting possibilities for future technologies.

Conclusion

The discovery of non-reciprocal interactions between molecules without external forces is a significant step forward in our understanding of the complex behavior of living organisms and the evolution of life itself. By uncovering the role of kinetic asymmetry in these interactions, scientists are not only gaining insights into the fundamental principles of nature but also paving the way for innovative technologies. Who knows what other secrets the microscopic world holds? The possibilities are endless!

Remember, science is all around us, and it’s always worth exploring. Stay curious, my friends!

SOURCE: Molecules exhibit non-reciprocal interactions without external forces, new study finds

https://phys.org/news/2023-12-molecules-non-reciprocal-interactions-external.html

FAQs

1. What are non-reciprocal interactions?

Non-reciprocal interactions refer to interactions between objects or molecules that do not follow the typical reciprocal law, where both objects have equal and opposite responses. In non-reciprocal interactions, one object may be attracted to another while the other object repels it.

2. How do molecules exhibit non-reciprocal interactions without external forces?

In the recent study, researchers discovered that molecules can exhibit non-reciprocal interactions through the local gradients of reactants and products created by chemical reactions facilitated by catalysts. These interactions are enabled by a property of the catalyst known as kinetic asymmetry, which determines the direction of response to a concentration gradient.

3. What is kinetic asymmetry?

Kinetic asymmetry is a property of catalysts that controls the direction of their response to a concentration gradient. It means that a molecule can be repelled by one molecule while attracting a different molecule. Kinetic asymmetry is a property that catalysts possess and can evolve and adapt over time.

4. How do non-reciprocal interactions impact the development of complex matter and the evolution of life?

Non-reciprocal interactions allowed by kinetic asymmetry are crucial for molecules to interact with each other. These interactions may have played a critical role in the development of complex matter and the evolution of life. By understanding the mechanisms behind non-reciprocal interactions, scientists can gain insights into the fundamental principles of nature.

5. What are the implications of this research for future technologies?

The knowledge gained from this research could be utilized in the design of synthetic molecular motors and pumps. The same kinetic asymmetry that determines non-reciprocal interactions between catalysts has also been shown to be important for the directionality of biomolecular machines. This opens up exciting possibilities for future technologies.



Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Non-reciprocal interactions, Catalyst (chemistry), Kinetic asymmetry

Psi
Psi, PSI or Ψ may refer to:
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Catalysis
Catalysis () is the increase in rate of a chemical reaction due to an added substance known as a catalyst (). Catalysts are not consumed by the reaction and remain unchanged after it. If the reaction is rapid and the catalyst recycles quickly, very small amounts of catalyst often suffice;...
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Baryon asymmetry
In physical cosmology, the baryon asymmetry problem, also known as the matter asymmetry problem or the matter–antimatter asymmetry problem, is the observed imbalance in baryonic matter (the type of matter experienced in everyday life) and antibaryonic matter in the observable universe. Neither the standard model of particle physics nor the...
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