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Physical Methods in Bioinorganic Chemistry: Spectroscopy and Magnetism

Lawrence Que, Jr. University of Minnesota


The development of bioinorganic chemistry as a discipline over the last forty years is due in no small part to the availability of a variety of physical methods with which to probe the nature of the metal ion environment in the biological system of interest. These tools have been quite useful in providing insight into the electronic structure of the metal ion and the ligands that surround it. By piecing together the various clues derived from the physical methods, bioinorganic chemists have been able to form a coherent picture of the metal binding site and to deduce the role of the metal ion in a number of biological processes. 

This book is aimed at providing the novice in bioinorganic chemistry a fundamental understanding of the physical methods employed. It is intended not only for beginning graduate students, but also as a source of information for scientists not previously trained in spectroscopy and magnetism but finding their research projects evolving in a direction that requires such physical methods. Thus many examples are provided to illustrate the types of physical data that can be obtained so that the reader can attempt to match the experimental data with data published in the book. 

The first nine chapters cover individual methods that are useful in bioinorganic chemistry. Included are spectroscopic methods such as electronic absorption spectroscopy, resonance Raman spectroscopy, electron paramagnetic resonance and associated double resonance methods, circular dichroism and magnetic circular dichroism, Mossbauer spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy of paramagnetic molecules, and x-ray absorption spectroscopy. There is also one chapter on magnetism. Excluded were discussions on nuclear magnetic resonance in general and x-ray crystallography, both of which are topics that are covered by entire books. Lastly, the chapter at the end provides some case studies that illustrate how data from several physical methods have been used to assemble a picture of a particular metal center in biology. 

Lawrence Que, Jr.