Swapping your left shoe for the right one while putting them on is unpleasant, but swapping molecules in the same way when making medicines can be fatal - instead of a drug poison is produced. A new method invented by a team of international scientists led by Lukas Palatinus from the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences will help prevent this. The unique procedure for determining the position of atoms in crystals was published last week in the Nature Chemistry journal.
Crystals are as a construction set. They are made up from tiny building blocks which often are molecules. Lukáš Palatinus is able to determine what molecules look like and how they are put together in a crystal. He can thus create new models of crystal structures. An imperfect crystal, which is characterised by errors and inaccuracies in the cube structure, is another scientific challenge for Lukáš Palatinus.
Authors extended the application of the method further to the fields where the knowledge of the so-called absolute configuration of molecules is indispensable, such as pharmaceutical research or molecular biology. The new method will be used in laboratories and the development of drugs will become faster, simpler and more effective.
Among other successes, he developed a program Superflip, which has been widely adopted by the crystallographic community and is one of the most commonly used programs in the field today.
The method of analysis is so accurate that it can be used to detect the positions of even the lightest of all atoms – the hydrogens.
Václav Petříček has received the Charles Barrett Award for development of the theory of incommensurately modulated and composite structures, for utilizing this theory in the computing system Jana2006 and for development of an archiving system of aperiodic structures in the database Powder Diffraction FileTM.