Scientific activities in many research areas are predicted to become increasingly carbohydrates-oriented over the next decade. While the growing impact of carbohydrates on energy, food security and healthcare are already clear, the future development of new carbohydrate-based therapeutics, materials and energy sources will depend heavily on our building a better understanding at the molecular level of the structure-function relationships of carbohydrates. As traditional structural methods (NMR or X-ray) are often difficult to apply to carbohydrates, new approaches are urgently required.
The main topic of the talk is to present a new spectroscopic approach for studying carbohydrate structures at the molecular level. We have developed widely applicable yet structurally sensitive approach based on chiral variants of vibrational spectroscopies (especially Raman optical activity and vibrational circular dichroism) for studying carbohydrates that exploit diverse interactions of carbohydrates with circularly polarized light (Figure 1; e.g. Ref. 1). These spectroscopic techniques are able to reveal previously unknown details on all aspects of complex carbohydrate structure and organization, from the hydration of small sugars to inter/intramolecular interactions of oligo- or polysaccharides and glycoproteins that govern their physiological functions.