’Green’ chemistry and biofuels: Observing a photoenzyme at work. An EPN collaboration
8 April 2021 An international consortium* of scientists, including researchers from the IBS/DYNAMOP and IBS/SYN groups, ESRF and ILL, has deciphered the mechanism and dynamics of the fatty acid photodecarboxylase (FAP) enzyme, a discovery published in Science on 08/04/2021. This photoenzyme is naturally present in many microscopic algae and uses light energy to catalyse the generation of hydrocarbons from fatty acids. To elucidate the mechanism of this unique enzyme, the research teams have combined multi-faceted experimental and theoretical approaches comprising site-directed mutagenesis, time-resolved vibrational and electronic optical spectroscopies or cryotrapping of reaction intermediates, static and kinetic crystallography at synchrotrons and an X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) and quantum chemical calculations. The elucidation of the FAP catalytic mechanism and the identification of reaction intermediates and structural elements indispensable to its activity constitute a key basis for the optimization of the enzyme for the production of ‘green’ hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals that can be easily modulated by light. Press release.
* In France, this study mobilized researchers from the Institut de Biosciences et Biotechnologies Aix-Marseille in Cadarache, the Institut de Biologie Intégrative de la Cellule in Gif-sur-Yvette, the Institut Polytechnique de Paris in Palaiseau, the Institut de Biologie Structurale in Grenoble, the Universities of Lille and Rennes, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and the Institut Laue-Langevin. Abroad, researchers from the Max-Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Moscow State University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Stanford are involved.
"InnovaXN MSCA Cofund" channels the expertise of the two large-scale research infrastructures on the EPN campus, the ILL and ESRF, towards research and development programmes within European industry.
Thanks to InnovaXN, forty doctoral students on the EPN Campus will be exploiting the advanced characterisation techniques available at the ESRF and the ILL to elucidate questions currently being addressed by their industrial partners.
Battery research: Using neutrons and X-rays at EPN campus to analyse the ageing of lithium batteries
An international team has used neutron and X-ray tomography to investigate the dynamic processes that lead to capacity degradation at the electrodes in lithium batteries. Using a new mathematical method, it was possible to virtually unwind electrodes and thus actually observe the processes on the surfaces of the electrodes. Data were gathered at two neutron sources : HZB BER II and Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) and employed X-ray tomography at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble. The study was published in Nature Communications. [more information here]
Lancement départemental de la Fête de la Science 2019
Le 3 octobre, l'édition 2019 de la Fête de la Science en Isère était officiellement lancée en présence de M. Christophe Ferrari, président de Grenoble Alpes Metropole et d'Eric Piolle, le maire de Grenoble, dans les locaux du campus EPN.
La Fête de la Science est coordonnée par la Casemate. Elle comporte des centaines d'évènements tous publics, dont le Parvis des Sciences, à Minatec, auquel les quatre instituts du site EPN participent avec un stand commun.
A pioneering initiative to couple world-class research laboratories and business-management experts aims to create a European innovation ecosystem that will accelerate the development of disruptive technologies and their progress to market. ATTRACT, as the initiative is known, will commit €17 million to funding 170 breakthrough detection and imaging ideas with market potential to help enable the creation of products, services, companies and jobs based on these technologies.
On Wednesday 13 June, Frédérique Vidal, France’s Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation, visited the EPN campus as part of a two-day programme in Grenoble. She was accompanied by representatives from important local and regional institutions.
Mrs Vidal was welcomed to the ESRF by Francesco Sette, Director General, Helmut Schober, the ILL Director, Stephen Cusack, Head of the EMBL outstation in Grenoble, and the Director of IBS, Winfried Weissenhorn.
On Friday18 May, Mona Nemer, the Chief Science Advisor of Canada, visited Grenoble and the EPN campus. She was accompanied by Yannick Neuder, vice-president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region with responsibility for higher education, research, innovation and European funds, and by Geneviève Fioraso, former French Minister of Research and former Member of Parliament for Isère. This visit gave both the ILL and the ESRF the opportunity to present them the research carried out in each institute.
Self-assembling systems are a promising category of material that enable complex structures to form from smaller and simpler molecular building blocks without external impetus. This offers the possibility for the rational design of materials that are tailored to specific applications, raging from drug delivery in healthcare to molecular electronics. Read about a new study published in the journal Nanoscale by the EPN partners: the Life Sciences group in the ILL, with the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the Institut de Biologie Structurale (IBS). [More on the ILL website].
Twenty-four students from 12 different countries have arrived at the ESRF for the 19th HERCULES specialised course which runs from 15-19 May 2017. This course, called HSC19: Quantitative Imaging with X-rays and Neutrons, involves more than 70 participants and starts with lectures on the major techniques and theoretical aspects of image processing. It also includes one day of tutorials and a full day of hands-on practical sessions on 6 different beamlines. (More on the ESRF website)
The 1st PSCM (Partnership for Soft Condensed Matter) review meeting and workshop was held on 27-28 March 2017. The aim of the meeting was to evaluate the implementation of the PSCM initiative during 2012-2016 and to provide recommendations for possible future developments. [More]
Unfoldases are able to recognize, unfold, and address misfolded or dysfunctional proteins towards proteolytic complexes. In a collaboration between ILL and IBS, a novel approach was developed combining time-resolved small angle neutron scattering (TR-SANS) with online-fluorescence spectroscopy. [more on the ILL website]
A refurbished and upgraded High-Throughput Crystallography (HTX) platform has been launched on the EPN Campus in Grenoble. The platform offers robotics for crystallisation of both soluble and membrane proteins and automated crystal harvesting thus promoting efficient structure determination by X-ray crystallography. The new HTX platform is a joint effort between EMBL Grenoble and the Institut de Biologie Structurale (IBS). [more on EMBL website]
4th International Soft Matter Conference - ISMC 2016
The 4th International Soft Matter Conference (ISMC2016) was held at the centre Alpes-Congrès at Alpexpo Grenoble, from 12th to 16thSeptember 2016 under the auspices of the SoftComp consortium.
Three previous conferences were held in Aachen (2007), Granada (2010) and Rome (2013). Over those five sunny days in Grenoble, the conference has brought together nearly 700 experimentalists and theorists working in the soft matter field of which more than 200 students. Thirty-seven different nationalities were represented. [more]
On Saturday 8 October, the four EPN campus institutes held a stand at the French Science Festival "Fête de la Science". We welcomed most of the 2800 curious and enthusiastic visitors who came to the Parvis des Sciences that day. The public discovered the different activities and research carried out on the EPN Science Campus, guided by more than 30 passionate volunteers ... [more]
A new Management team at ILL
On 1st October, Helmut Schober became the new Director of the ILL, taking over from Bill Stirling. Mark Johnson is the new Science Director and British Associate Director of the ILL.
On Thursday, 29 September, ILL and ESRF celebrated the retirement of Bill Stirling, after a tenure of 33 months at the ILL a 9-year term as ESRF DG. He is one of the fathers of EPN campus and a strong supporter of the Giant campus. [more on the ILL website]
The 32nd edition of the ECOSS conference series was held in Grenoble from the 28th of August through the 2nd of September at Alp’expo.
This conference is organised annually and gives the opportunity to European and world wide researchers to discuss about the most recent findings concerning the surface and interface properties of solids. This year 500 people coming from 36 countries worldwide convened to Grenoble to participate to this event. The venue has been organised jointly by the ESRF, ILL, CEA and the Grenoble Alpes University with the support of the Société Française du Vide. 5 sessions run in parallel for the whole week to cover a broad range of topics from graphene to molecules on surfaces, from surface magnetism to oxide surfaces and interfaces.[more]
Kinetics and RNA sequence dependence of measles virus nucleocapsid
Measles virus RNA genomes are packaged into helical nucleocapsids (NCs), comprising thousands of nucleo-proteins (N) that bind the entire genome. N-RNA provides the template for replication and transcription by the viral polymerase and is a promising target for viral inhibition. The nucleocapsid assembly process regulating this process has been described for the first time by IBS researchers thanks to a combination of real-time NMR, fluorescence spectroscopy and electron microscopy. This observation is reported in Angewandte Chemie on June 06. More on the IBS website
Metallic ink revealed in Herculaneum papyri - an ESRF publication
An international team of scientists has discovered the presence of metal in the ink of two Herculaneum papyrus fragments proving that metals were used in ink several centuries earlier than previously believed. [more on the ESRF website]
La nouvelle plate-forme de caractérisation de l'IRT NAnoélec est conçue pour faciliter aux industriels l'accès aux grands instruments de Grenoble : ILL et ESRF, sur le campus de Grenoble. La recherche technologique en micro-nanoélectronique bénéficie désormais d'un point d'entrée unique et d'un service adapté. Cette video vous en dit plus.
Rodin’s modelling techniques brought to light at ESRF
Advanced synchrotron imaging techniques have helped conservators gain insight into the techniques employed by Auguste Rodin at the beginning of the 20th century in the making of his sculptures with modern modelling materials and have participated in developing adapted protocols for the restoration of badly degraded models. [more on the ESRF website]
Large Scale Conformational Dynamics Control the Function of H5N1 Influenza Polymerase
An international collaboration of scientists from the IBS, the EMBL and the ILL has revealed the molecular function of a protein essential for replication of H5N1 influenza virus. This study, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, illustrates how the flexibility of a protein allows it to adapt its function, facilitating infection of the host. An obvious EPN-campus achievement! [More on the ILL website]
A tough egg to crack - oldest lizard embryos discovered in fossil eggs
Since 2003, scientists have puzzled over the identity of a batch of tiny fossilised eggs, originally concluding that they belonged to a small theropod dinosaur or a primitive bird. Today, with the ESRF's ultra-bright X-rays and cutting edge synchrotron scanning techniques, their true identity has been revealed. They are in fact anguimorph lizards and the oldest lizard embryos ever to have been discovered in fossil eggs. [More on the ESRF website.]
The ESRF launches a new generation of synchrotrons
The ESRF officially launched Phase II of its innovative renovation project, the Upgrade Programme : 150M€ over 2015-2022. The major technological challenge is the creation of an ultra-bright synchrotron source, inside the existing structure, with performances 100 times superior to present day synchrotrons worldwide. The unrivalled properties of this new light source will transform the facility into a unique instrument, opening up new perspectives for X-ray science in many fields of fundamental and applied research. [more on the ESRF website]
How water molecules dance to activate proteins
An international team of researchers from IBS and ILL, among others, has shed light on the molecular mechanism behind the importance of water for functional protein dynamics. The scientists have discovered that water’s ability to flow on the surface of proteins makes them sufficiently dynamic to be biologically active. The results have just been published in Nature Communication.
Writing lain undiscovered for centuries inside a scroll that was charred in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD has been uncovered for the first time. The text, discovered in Herculaneum 260 years ago, has been distinguished using X-rays at the European Synchrotron, the ESRF. The result, by a team from Italian CNR, the ESRF, Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität, and CNRS, is published in Nature Communications. It offers new possibilities for deciphering hundreds of so far untouched texts, without the damage that can be caused by trying to open them [more on the ESRF website].
Fête de la Science : merci de votre visite !
Merci aux centaines de visiteurs qui ont visité notre chapiteau et arpenté le site de recherche EPN, le samedi 18 octobre.
A la demande générale voici les résultats du jeu-quiz sur le thème de la cristallographie (les questions puis les réponses pages 5 et 6). Les gagnants seront avertis dans les prochains jours.
In soft matter and materials physics, self-assembly serves to synthesize and control nano-structures with well-defined sizes and geometries. Accurate control of the properties (structure and dynamics) of these nanoparticles is essential for the performance relevant to a wide range of products. A new mechanism has just been observed due to the unique combination of the high resolution of synchrotron SAXS combined with the contrast of SANS. An EPN success story! See more on ILL website.
Friday 21 February saw the official opening on the epn campus of several new buildings which were funded in part or in full by the local and regional authorities in the framework of a so-called CPER contract (Contrat de Projets Etat-Région). The opening ceremonies were attended by the French Minister for Higher Education and Research, Geneviève Fioraso, the President of the Rhône-Alpes region, Jean-Jack Queyranne, the President of Grenoble Alpes Metropole, Marc Baïetto, and deputy Mayor of Grenoble, Jérôme Safar, in their capacity as funders and faithful supporters of these projects. [more on the ILL website]
Building ribosomes – the cell’s protein factories – is like a strictly choreographed dance. Other ‘machines’ inside the cell have to produce specific RNA molecules and fold them into the right shape, then combine the folded RNA with proteins to form a working ribosome. The study combined nuclear magnetic resonance experiments performed at EMBL and neutron scattering experiments performed at the ILL in Grenoble, France.
Neutron scattering at ILL and ISIS delves inside new crime scene forensics technique developed by the University of LeicesterResearch to address the fact that only 10% of fingerprints taken from crime scenes yield identifications that are usable in court
Harvesting unused energy has been the object of research since the days of the windmill and the waterwheel. In recent years, thermo-electric materials have enabled the re-use of otherwise wasted thermal energy as electrical power. Driven by the quest to efficiently cool densely packed micro-electronics chips, they are also used as solid-state refrigerators. One of the difficulties involved in developing thermo-electric systems that convert heat into electric current is the need for materials exhibiting high electrical conductivity but low thermal conductivity, which is only possible with complicated crystal structures. Scientists have now discovered a way of suppressing thermal conductivity in sodium cobaltate, opening new paths for energy scavenging.
Metals contained in nanoparticles can enter into the food chain. Scientists have, for the first time, traced the nanoparticles taken up from the soil by crop plants and analysed the chemical states of their metallic elements. Zinc was shown to dissolve and accumulate throughout the plants, whereas the element cerium did not dissolve into plant tissue. The results contribute to the controversial debate on plant toxicity of nanoparticles and whether engineered nanoparticles can enter into the food chain.