How do we smell? ‘HOT’ PCCP paper featured on Science Daily

A PCCP paper which studies the vibrations of odorant molecules (or aroma compounds) and how these effect our sense of smell, has featured in Science Daily this week.

The ‘HOT’ PCCP article specifically looks into the vibrationally assisted electron transfer mechanism of olfaction, and whether this process is what really allows us to distinguish between different smells.

They found that olfactory receptors can pick up molecular vibrations to distinguish between odour molecules.

Previously, scientists thought that a lock-and-key mechanism was operating between different olfactory receptors and molecules. But then, it was noted that people could smell the difference between deuterated and non-deuterated compounds, which have the same shape but different vibrational frequencies. This paper provides further support for a vibrationally-assisted mechanism for smell.

Read the PCCP paper in full:

Vibrationally assisted electron transfer mechanism of olfaction: myth or reality?
Ilia A. Solov’yov , Po-Yao Chang and Klaus Schulten
Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2012, DOI: 10.1039/C2CP41436H

This paper will also feature on the cover of next week’s issue, which is a themed issue on electron transfer theory. The issue is Guest Edited by David N. Beratan (Duke University) and José Onuchic (UCSD) and also features an editorial commentary by Nobel Laureate and the father of the field, Professor Rudy Marcus:

Electron transfer theory and its inception
Rudolph A. Marcus
Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2012, DOI: 10.1039/C2CP90116A

Sign-up to receive the free PCCP e-alert to see this themed issue first next week!

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