The workgroup is using different neutron scattering methods like small angle scattering, neutron spectroscopy and diffraction to study the structure and dynamics of biomolecules and membranes, mainly in the field of photosynthesis research. The main research directions are the following: Investigations of photoswitchable proteins and membranes are carried out aiming at the determination of active state structures and their molecular flexibility. This involves the development of in-situ methods for neutron scattering under illumination. Solution structures of native photosystems PSI and PSII are explored using small angle scattering under nearly physiological conditions as employed for functional studies and biotechnological applications. The method is also used to improve the conditions of detergent-solubilization and crystal formation to obtain high-resolution structures. Photosynthetic light-harvesting complexes are studied by neutron spectroscopy to achieve a better understanding of the capture of solar energy under physiological conditions. The workgroup also develops infrastructure for the European Spallation Source ESS as part of the Estonian in-kind contributions (see www.esss.ee). This concerns mainly the development of pump-probe experiments with optical activation of biological processes and subsequent time-resolved test of the related protein structure and dynamics.
Solution structure of the orange carotenoid protein determined by small angle scattering under in-situ illumination (Golub et al. J.Phys.Chem.B 2019)