From the art desk
Cornelia: It was challenging to capture a complex process in a single picture. At first, I experimented with a machine, but that would not have conveyed the synthesis and encoding process properly.
The leitmotif of this research area is the population of chemical space by collections of molecules so I decided to use the space motif as background. In the foreground, I placed two astronauts to illustrate that the process of synthesizing these collections really consists of two steps: One astronaut holds a tool, a catalyst, in his hand. He receives a starting material tagged with a short hexathymine DNA sequence, and uses his tool to synthesize the target molecule.
Following synthesis, he hands the molecule over to the next astronaut who glues a DNA strand consisting of a code and a hexaadenine sequence to the hexathymidine-small molecule structure with a tool called “T4”, which is an enzyme that connects DNA fragments. The products of this procedure are then populating the (chemical) space.
Finding the appropriate stock picture for this idea was a hard task. Therefore, we joined nine separate images together. I drew the transitions and retouches by hand in Photoshop. Unfortunately, I do not have my original sketches any more – but they looked like the fondly scribbled drawings of a kindergartener.
Read the article
Mateja Klika Škopić et al, Chem. Sci, 2017, DOI: 10.1039/C7SC00455A
This image appears on the front cover of Chemical Science, 2017, Issue 5.