Scientists from the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) have managed to direct the self-assembly of rod-shaped molecules into rotors only few nanometers in size. The tiny systems serve the study of forces that act on molecules on surfaces and in cage-like structures. Their findings are published in the current online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA).
Invention in the field of renewable energies from the Technical University Munich enables hydroelectric power generation at thousands of unused locations and is designed to let fish pass along with the water– small is beautiful, and good for the environment. The invention can be licensed or purchased at the Bayerische Patentallianz GmbH, the central technology transfer organisation of 28 Bavarian universities and universities of applied sciences.
Hydroelectric power is the oldest and the “greenest" source of renewable energy. In Germany, the potential would appear to be completely exploited, while large-scale projects in developing countries are eliciting strong criticism due to their major impact on the environment. Researchers at Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) have developed a small-scale hydroelectric power plant that solves a number of problems at the same time: The construction is so simple, and thereby cost-efficient, that the power generation system is capable of operating profitably in connection with even modest dam heights. Moreover, the system is concealed in a shaft, minimizing the impact on the landscape and waterways. There are thousands of locations in Europe where such power plants would be viable, in addition to regions throughout the world where hydroelectric power remains an untapped resource.
New strategy sheds light on membrane protein structure: Structural genomics accelerates protein structure determination. Membrane proteins are of immense biological and pharmaceutical importance. But so far there are only a handful of cases in which the exact structure could be successfully determined. Scientists at Columbia University, New York, and Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) have now succeeded in working out the structure of an important ion channel via the analysis of related proteins. The current issue of the journal Nature reports on their findings.
View into the SLAC1 anion channel
Photosynthesis is the process used by plants to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into the energy-rich chemicals upon which all life-forms depend. The energy trapped in these compounds comes from sunlight, and photosynthetic organisms – plants, algae and certain types of bacteria – capture this energy in a usable form with the help of protein complexes called photosystems. Photosystems include antenna proteins that collect incident light, and green plants have two sorts of photosystems, which respond best to light of different wavelengths. A team of researchers at LMU (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich), led by Professor Dario Leister, has now identified a protein named PAM68 that is essential for the assembly of Photosystem II in green plants. The protein is also found in photosynthetic cyanobacteria, but there it serves a different function. “It turns out that PAM68 itself does not form part of the functional photosystem II at all”, says Leister. In the longer term, the new finding may make it possible to improve the yields of important crops and might even form the basis for new types of solar cells. (Plant Cell online, 5 October 2010)
Ribosomes are the molecular machines responsible for synthesis of all the proteins in living cells. LMU (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich) researchers have now shown, for the first time in molecular detail, how the synthesis of some proteins is interrupted to produce short peptide fragments that can control gene expression.