The spiral signature of a perfume can reveal whether a perfume is an original or a fake. Likewise, the chiral signature of a plant’s emissions can provide information about whether a plant is healthy or diseased. Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry (MPIC) have developed an innovative approach capable of identifying and monitoring such chiral signatures. Most chiral natural substances are found in two mirror image forms present in different relative quantities. Therefore, each plant and each perfume should have its own distinctive feature. Using their new approach, the research team was able, for the first time, to identify chiral compounds within a complex mixture of gases with a high level of sensitivity and in real time.
Our new style Huge potentialspecifically in agriculture and chemical industryDr Lycurgus Pugas from JGU said. Professor Jonathan Williams of MPIC added that “In addition to commercial applicationsThis technology will also enable us to decode the chiral signals in the air around us, enabling us to better understand the chemistry of the atmosphere. “The collaborating partners have already applied for a patent for their technology.
Naturally occurring scents are different from synthetic scents
Chirality is an essential property of nature. Our left and right hands are a manifestation of this. Importantly, many biomolecules exist in two uncombinable mirror forms – in the same way that a right hand does not fit a left glove. This can affect the biochemical activity of these molecules. A unique example is plant emissions. These contain many chiral compounds that are naturally present in both forms, D- and L-isomers or enantiomers. A notable example is the chiral pinene molecule, which is responsible for the characteristic aroma of pine and pine. The relative proportions of two pineal homologues naturally varied in the emissions of such plants, but depended critically on the health status of the plant.
The same principle applies in the case of complex mixtures of natural and synthetic ingredients, as in the case of perfumes. Any heterogeneous components will occur in both the D and L isomers but in different relative quantities, depending on whether they originate from natural sources or from synthetic sources. Since natural ingredients are often replaced with synthetic in fake/fake perfumes, fake perfumes will have an unnatural signature that is different from the original items.
The research is under the auspices of the EU-funded ULTRACHIRAL project
Researchers based in Mainz have developed a cavity-enhanced polarimetry method for chiral optical analysis as part of the EU-sponsored ULTRACHIRAL project. They were able to detect the effects of different optical rotation of chiral molecules under polarized light. That’s why they transferred a sample of a plant or Perfume Smell a small room exposed to polarized light. They then used a new sensitive optical electrode to precisely and accurately measure the induced rotation of polarized light. The researchers were able to achieve sensitivity that is better than that of current state-of-the-art equipment by several orders of magnitude.
“Our new approach to chromatography provides us with accurate results, faster and with better sensitivities than conventional techniques, without the need for any calibration before each measurement. In addition, our technology is combined with gas chromatography for the first time to separate individual components in a complex mixture. As a result, The chiral shape of each component present in a complex mixture of gases can be determined directly and precisely,” explained JGU physicist Dr Lycurgus Pogas, lead author of the paper recently published in science progress. The team of authors propose in their publications a whole range of possible new applications of their detection method.
Among them is the quality control of perfumes, which is currently a particularly complex process in which perfumes contain several hundred or even thousands of different compounds – natural and synthetic. To prove the effectiveness of their method, the researchers compared four original, high-quality commercial perfumes with their low-cost imitations. The Mainz-based team was able to distinguish high-quality original perfumes and their imitations based on their helical signatures with the help of a single quick measurement.
Potential use in crop cultivation to monitor plant health and pest infestation
This technique may also be of great importance in the field of agriculture. Taking a young coniferous plant, the team was able to show that the spiral signature of the plant’s emissions suddenly changed once the plant was damaged. Similar chiral signatures have already been observed in plants exposed to drought or disease. These signatures can be used in practice, for example, for continuous monitoring of crop plants and an alarm if they are infested with insects, suffer from a lack of water, or become unhealthy.
The method may also help get more insights into the physical and chemical processes that occur in our atmosphere. Forests are known to release huge amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the environment, many of which are chiral. These particles affect not only the chemistry and physics of the air around us, but our climate as well. VOCs can also be the starting materials for secondary organic aerosols that affect the Earth’s solar radiation budget. “We are still largely unaware of the role that chirality plays in all of these processes. In order to better understand this, we need new tools and new approaches, such as those presented by our research,” Bogas concluded.
In order to enable the new method to be implemented in different application areas more easily, Dr Lycurgus Bogas and Professor Jonathan Williams hope that a portable version of the device will be developed in the future.
Lykourgos Bougas et al., Absolute chiral optical analysis using cavity-enhanced polarimetry, science progress (2022). DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abm3749
University of Mainz
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