Computational chemistry wins the Nobel
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2013 was has been awarded jointly to Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel “for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems”.
Computational chemistry is solving large scale issues of national importance. Take a look at a handful of the chemistry projects taking shape at NCI, and thank Karplus, Levitt and Warshal for their innovation that is making this research possible.
A key to feeding humanity and combating climate change through the 21st century will be the development of ‘supercharged’ crops and trees that perform the miracle of photosynthesis with far greater efficiency.
At the Australian National University’s John Curtin School of Medical Research, Professor Jill Gready and her team are employing Australia’s most powerful supercomputer, Vayu, at the NCI National Facility to unlock the secrets of what has been termed ‘the most important chemical process on Earth’, photosynthesis, which enables plants to use sunlight to convert CO2 to food and fibre – and so support all other life, including us.
Over billions of years, plants have perfected the process of using water and sunlight to produce an endless supply of hydrogen. The secrets to this clean, green energy source have remained locked within the flora world – until now.
Using computer modeling at the National Computational Infrastructure, Professors Rob Stranger and Ron Pace have made an important step towards unlocking the potential of a plant’s photosynthetic powerhouse, moving closer to a renewable source of clean hydrogen fuel.
Scorpions and other venomous creatures have somewhat of a PR problem.
Staring down at a scorpion, pincers raised and tail poised for attack would strike fear in the hearts of many. But what if the venomous telson at the end of its tail held the answer to crippling diseases?
Deep in the corridors at the ANU Research School of Biology, sandwiched between experimental laboratories Professor Shin-Ho Chung and his team in the Computational Biophysics Group are using terabytes rather than test tubes to figure out the ins and outs of cell biology, including whether venom can be used for good.
Finding an affordable way to turn carbon dioxide into fuel or deciphering the subtle processes that lead to heart disease or ageing are among the extraordinary possibilities now opening up thanks to advances in the field of computational quantum chemistry.
“Computational quantum chemistry is revolutionizing the practice of chemistry,” says Professor Leo Radom of the University of Sydney, Australia’s foremost exponent of the art of doing chemistry in cyberspace, without ever handling a chemical or a test-tube.