Polypeptides in alpha-helix conformation perform as diodes
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Molecules that resemble a semiconductor diode depletion zone are those with an intrinsic electric dipole, which were suggested as potential electronic devices. However, so far, no single molecule has met such a goal because any electron donor-acceptor linker strongly diminishes any possibility of diode behavior. We find an intrinsic diode behavior in polypeptides such as poly(L-alanine) and polyglycine in alpha-helix conformation, explained in terms of molecular orbital theory using ab initio methods. The application of an antiparallel electric field with respect to the molecular dipole yields a gradual increase in current through the junction because the valence and conduction orbitals approach each other reducing their gap as the bias increases. However, a parallel field makes the gap energy increase, avoiding the pass of the electrons.
author list (cited authors)
Cristancho, D., & Seminario, J. M.