The Positive Side of Proton Transfer
For the past year, I’ve been studying the mechanisms of proton transfer in Professor Kana Takematsu’s physical chemistry lab at Bowdoin College. Physical chemistry is a branch of chemistry that is based largely on mathematical properties, and as such is often feared by even chemistry majors. Breaking down chemistry from the macroscopic to the microscopic and studying molecules and atoms at their fundamental level is hard to grasp. But this fundamental nature of physical chemistry is precisely why I love it. Underlying all chemical reactions are interactions between positively charged protons and negatively charged electrons and if the interaction is favorable, a reaction will occur. Studying proton transfer, occurring on the nanosecond timescale, is thus hard to imagine, but super important to understanding chemistry between all sorts of more complex molecules, especially in biological systems.