Biophysical chemistry is a relatively new branch of physics that covers a broad spectrum of research activities involving biological systems. The most common feature of the research in this subject is to seek explanation of the various phenomena in biological systems in terms of either the molecules that make up the system or the supra-molecular structure of these systems.
Biophysical chemists employ various techniques used in physical chemistry to probe the structure of biological systems. These techniques include spectroscopic methods like nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and X-ray diffraction. For example, the work for which Nobel Prize was awarded in 2009 to three chemists was based on x-ray diffraction studies of ribosomes. Some of the areas in which biophysical chemists engage themselves are protein structure and the functional structure of cell membranes. For example, enzyme action can be explained in terms of the shape of a pocket in the protein molecule that matches the shape of the substrate molecule or its modification due to binding of a metal ion. Similarly the structure and function of the biomembranes may be understood through the study of model supramolecular structures as liposomes or phospholipidvesicles of different compositions and sizes.