Scientists led by the University of Bern and the National Center of Competence for Research
The researchers explained that most of the moleculesin the cells of living organisms are chiral. However, they are usually found in "left-sided" or "right-sided" variants - they are homochiral. But this molecular feature is a characteristic property of life, the so-called biosignature.
An international team of researchers was able todetect this signature from a distance of 2 km and at a speed of 70 km / h. “The main achievement of the project is that these measurements were carried out on a moving, vibrating platform, but we still found these biosignatures in a matter of seconds,” the scientists noted.
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“When light reflects off biological matter,part of the electromagnetic waves of light will spiral clockwise or counterclockwise. This phenomenon is called circular polarization and is caused by the homochirality of biological matter. Such spirals of light do not form in abiotic inanimate nature, ”explained the first author of the study, Lucas Patti.
Measuring this circular polarization is challenginga task. The signal is quite weak and usually less than one percent of the reflected light. To measure it, the team developed a special device called a spectropolarimeter. It consists of a camera equipped with special lenses and receivers capable of separating circular polarization from the rest of the light.
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