November 28, 2012

Illuminating the no-man's land of waters' surface

Sylvie Roke, scientist in EPFL’s Bioengineering Institute, is refuting previously held theories and offering a new explanation of electrochemical phenomena occurring at the interface between water and a hydrophobic matter. A new paradigm may be on the horizon.

Water repelling molecules are said to be hydrophobic. The hydration – or formation of water interfaces around hydrophobic molecules – is important for many biological processes: protein folding, membrane formation, transport of proteins across an interface, the transmission of action potentials across membranes. It is involved as well in the process of creating mayonnaise, or in the fact that you can get rid of fat with soap. Hydrophobic interfaces although long studied, are poorly understood.