For those that are interested, this is the grand result of my research this summer – a plot of the T1 relaxation time vs. Temperature for 4,4’-Dimethoxyoctaflurodiphenyl (“DMOFDP”).
It’s absolutely beautiful and mysterious.
Supposedly, plots like this are useful to biochemists for understanding how and why DNA and other nuclear ‘characters’ interact the way they do. For instance, it aides in figuring out why the molecules involved in DNA replication are shaped the way they are, and how their defects might cause diseases.
DMOFDP is an organic molecule with two aromatic rings surrounded by fluorine atoms and with two “rotors” pegged onto opposite ends. The rotors are just three hydrogen atoms bonded to a central carbon atom, which is attached to an oxygen. The three hydrogens “rotate” freely around the carbon when zapped with radio frequency light.
The important thing here is that the hydrogens (that are rotating) and the fluorines (which are attached to the rings in the middle) can exchange energy (since they are similar spin systems). By looking at the plot above, we can learn how much energy it takes to rotate the hydrogen rotors, and how much they interact with the fluorines.
We got the light blue points by pulsing the fluorine atoms, and the purple points by pulsing the hydrogen atoms. Where there are two purple dots (a light colored one above, and a darker colored one below) the hydrogens are interacting efficiently with the fluorines.
What do I mean by ‘interacting efficiently’? Imagine two empty tanks, side by side, connected by a valve that is either open or closed. One tank has a hole in the bottom. At the beginning of the experiment, you will fill one of the tanks, and record how quickly the water level drops. Now when you fill the tank with the hole in the bottom, how fast the water level drops depends on the size and shape of the tank, and the size of the hole. But if you open the valve to the other tank, the water will equilibrate between the two tanks immediately (at a fast rate) and then drop at a slower rate together. The tanks are the hydrogen and fluorine systems, and whether or not the valve is open affects whether or not they interact, or exchange energy.
This is all very exciting, since the current theory doesn’t explain such interactions at the temperatures shown in the plot. I’ll spend the next 7-8 months developing the theory and writing about it.