Abstract

A dispersive vibrational circular dichroism (VCD) instrument has been designed and optimized for the measurement of mid-infrared (MIR) bands such as the amide I and amide II vibrational modes of peptides and proteins. The major design considerations were to construct a compact VCD instrument for biological molecules, to increase signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio, to simultaneously collect and digitize the sample transmission and polarization modulation signals, and to digitally ratio them to yield a VCD spectrum. These were realized by assembling new components using design factors adapted from previous VCD instruments. A collection of spectra for peptides and proteins having different dominant secondary structures (alpha-helix, beta-sheet, and random coil) measured for identical samples under the same conditions showed that the new instrument had substantially improved S/N as compared with our previous dispersive VCD instrument. These instruments both provide protein VCD for the amide I that are comparable to or somewhat better than those measurable with commercial Fourier transform (FT) VCD instruments if just the amide I band in the spectra is obtained at modest resolution (8 cm<sup>−1</sup>) with the same total data collection time on each type of instrument.

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