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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jun 1983; 80(12): 3568–3572.
PMCID: PMC394090

Circular differential scattering can be an important part of the circular dichroism of macromolecules.


Differential scattering of incident left and right circularly polarized light can be an important contribution to the circular dichroism of macromolecules. In principle both differential absorption and differential scattering of circularly polarized light contribute to circular dichroism, but differential scattering is increasingly important for particles whose dimensions are greater than 1/20th the wavelength of light. The scattering contribution is probably not important for unaggregated proteins and nucleic acids in solution. It can be very important for viruses, membranes, and other protein-nucleic acid complexes. Outside the absorption bands of the scattering, chiral particle, only differential scattering contributes to the circular dichroism. The sign and magnitude of the differential scattering is quantitatively related to the relative orientations and the distances between the scattering units of the particle. The interpretation of the circular differential scattering depends on a simple, classical method. Thus, in understanding a measured circular dichroism, it often will be easier to relate the differential scattering to the structure of a particle (such as a virus) than it is to relate the differential absorption to the structure.

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Selected References

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