Monday, June 30, 2014

Artificial enzyme mimics natural detoxification mechanism in liver cells

Molybdenum trioxide nanoparticles oxidize sulfite to sulfate in liver cells in analogy to the enzyme sulfite oxidase, researchers have found. The functionalized Molybdenum trioxide nanoparticles can cross the cellular membrane and accumulate at the mitochondria, where they can recover the activity of sulfite oxidase.



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Smashing new look at nanoribbons: Researchers unzip nanotubes by shooting them at 15,000 mph

Scientists have discovered they can unzip nanotubes into graphene nanoribbons without chemicals by firing them at a target at 15,000 miles per hour. Materials scientists discovered that nanotubes that hit a target end first turn into mostly ragged clumps of atoms. But nanotubes that happen to broadside the target unzip into handy ribbons that can be used in composite materials for strength and applications that take advantage of their desirable electrical properties.



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Green spaces in cities may increase erosion of building materials such as stone, concrete and steel

Green spaces in towns and cities need extra consideration as they may be damaging buildings in the area, according to new research. When organic chemicals from trees and vegetation mix with air pollutants the resulting corrosive gas can increase the erosion of building materials, including stone, concrete and steel.



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Algae as chemical raw materials

Chemists and biologists have succeeded in transforming algae oil into high-quality chemical raw materials via so-called isomerizing alkoxycarbonylation. This provides the foundation for the use of algae as a basic chemical component for a broad spectrum of materials and products, beyond the use of algae as a substitute for crude oil.



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Silver in the washing machine: Nano-coatings release almost no nano-particles, experts say

The antibacterial properties of silver-coated textiles are popular in the fields of sport and medicine. Scientists have now investigated how different silver coatings behave in the washing machine, and they have discovered something important: textiles with nano-coatings release fewer nano-particles into the washing water than those with normal coatings.



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Improved method for isotope enrichment could secure a vital global commodity

Researchers have devised a new method for enriching a group of the world's most expensive chemical commodities, stable isotopes, which are vital to medical imaging and nuclear power. For many isotopes, the new method is cheaper than existing methods. For others, it is more environmentally friendly.



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Marine bacteria are natural source of chemical fire retardants

Researchers have discovered a widely distributed group of marine bacteria that produce compounds nearly identical to toxic human-made fire retardants.



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Silver lining found for making new drugs

Chemists have discovered a new chemical to aid drug manufacturing processes, making it more environmentally friendly and easier to scale up for industry. The scientists discovered that a positively charged molecule known as TMA could replace silver in the manufacturing process, making it more sustainable.



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Notorious pathogen forms slimy 'streamers' to clog up medical devices

A research team has moved a step closer to preventing infections of the common hospital pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus, by revealing the mechanisms that allow the bacteria to rapidly clog up medical devices.



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Saturday, June 28, 2014

LED phosphors: Better red makes brighter white

Chemists have developed a novel type of red phosphor material, which significantly enhances the performance of white-emitting LEDs.



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Formation of organic thin-film transistors through room-temperature printing

Researchers have established a process for forming organic thin-film transistors (TFTs), conducting the entire printing process at room temperature under ambient atmospheric conditions.



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Molecular footballs could revolutionize creation of novel materials

A new way to assemble individual molecules could revolutionize the creation of novel materials with numerous potential applications, including emerging technologies such as flexible TVs. This work focuses on the interactions between molecules and in particular on "amphiphilic" molecules, which contain two distinct parts to them. Household detergent is a good example of a product that relies on interacting amphiphilic molecules.



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Friday, June 27, 2014

Diamond plates create nanostructures through pressure, not chemistry

Mechanical force -- about the same that raises the numerals on credit cards -- proves to be a much more varied and ecological creator of nanostructures than the current method of choice, chemistry, with its unvarying results and harmful chemical processes.



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Win-win-win solution for biofuel, climate, and biodiversity

In Brazil, the demand for alternative energy sources has led to an increase in biofuel crops. A new paper reviews new research conducted by Brazilian colleagues demonstrating the high carbon gains of converting underutilized pastureland for biofuel crops. With over 2.5 million square kilometers of existing cleared lands in Brazil, much of which is degraded pasture lands, there is already a large potential area for biofuel crop expansion.



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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Let there be light: Chemists develop magnetically responsive liquid crystals for writing tablets, billboards and more

Chemists have constructed liquid crystals with optical properties that can be instantly and reversibly controlled by an external magnetic field. The research opens the door to display applications relying on the instantaneous and contactless nature of magnetic manipulation -- such as signage, posters, writing tablets, and billboards. Requiring no electrodes, the liquid crystals have applications in anti-counterfeit technology and optical communication devices for controlling the amplitude, phase, polarization, propagation direction of light.



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Water-cleanup catalysts tackle biomass upgrading

A chemical engineer has spent a decade amassing evidence that palladium-gold nanoparticles are excellent catalysts for cleaning polluted water, but even he was surprised at how well the particles converted biodiesel waste into valuable chemicals.



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Team develops a geothermometer for methane formation

A team of scientists has developed a new technique that can, for the first time, determine the temperature at which a natural methane sample formed. This determination can aid in figuring out how and where the gas formed.



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Packing hundreds of sensors into a single optical fiber for use in harsh environments

By fusing together the concepts of active fiber sensors and high-temperature fiber sensors, a team of researchers has created an all-optical high-temperature sensor for gas flow measurements that operates at record-setting temperatures above 800 degrees Celsius. It's expected to find industrial sensing applications in harsh environments, such as deep geothermal drill cores or space missions.



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Managing specialized microbes to clean stubborn chemicals from environment

Unique groups of microorganisms capable of converting hazardous chlorinated chemicals like trichloroetheene into ethene, a benign end product of microbial biodegradation, have been examined by scientists. The studies explore the metabolic activities of a group of microbes known as Dehalococcoides and propose strategies to improve their effectiveness for environmental cleanup projects involving chlorinated chemicals.



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A breakthrough for organic reactions in water

Green-chemistry researchers have discovered a way to use water as a solvent in one of the reactions most widely used to synthesize chemical products and pharmaceuticals. The findings mark a potential milestone in efforts to develop organic reactions in water.



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'Nanosubmarine' designed that delivers complementary molecules inside cells

Nanoparticles that under the right conditions, self-assemble -- trapping complementary guest molecules within their structure -- have been recently created by scientists. Like tiny submarines, these versatile nanocarriers can navigate in the watery environment surrounding cells and transport their guest molecules through the membrane of living cells to sequentially deliver their cargo.



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Electrostatics do the trick: Simple model describes what happens between organic semiconductors and metals

Organic semiconductors allow for flexible displays, solar cells, and other applications. One common problem in these devices, however, is the interface between the metallic contacts and the organic semiconductor material, where undesirable losses occur. Now researchers have shown what these losses depend upon.



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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Origin of life: Stanley Miller's forgotten experiments, analyzed

Stanley Miller, the chemist whose landmark experiment published in 1953 showed how some of the molecules of life could have formed on a young Earth, left behind boxes of experimental samples that he never analyzed. The first-ever analysis of some of Miller's old samples has revealed another way that important molecules could have formed on early Earth.



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Scientists create new battery that's cheap, clean, rechargeable ... and organic

Scientists have developed a rechargeable battery that is all organic and could be scaled up easily for use in power plants where it can make the energy grid more resilient and efficient by creating a large-scale means to store energy for use as needed. The batteries could pave the way for renewable energy sources to make up a greater share of the nation's energy generation.



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Carbon monoxide hazards on houseboats highlighted by study

Boaters and marina workers should exercise caution this summer before taking to the seas. A study outlines hazards posed by carbon monoxide levels on houseboats that use gasoline-powered generators without emission controls, along with controls that are available to reduce exposure to carbon monoxide from the generators.



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Fracking flowback could pollute groundwater with heavy metals

The chemical makeup of wastewater generated by “hydrofracking” could cause the release of tiny particles in soils that often strongly bind heavy metals and pollutants, exacerbating the environmental risks during accidental spills, Cornell University researchers have found.



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New device could improve biomarker analyses

A new devise could offer a more reliable alternative for detecting biomarkers in patients facing such illnesses as cancer or malaria. Whether to extract circulating tumor cells from the blood of a cancer patient, or to measure the elasticity of red blood cells due to malaria infection, the physical attributes of cells are important biomarkers in medicine.



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Eco-friendly versatile nanocapsules developed

This new technology suggests a possible application of eco-friendly solvents that can address environmental, safety and economic issues all at once. Since various kinds of metal nanoparticles can be employed on the surface of polymer nanocapsules, it is also potentially useful for other applications in the field of nano-medicine and bioimaging.



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Collaboration of minds and metal leads to possible shortcut to new drugs

Researchers merged two powerful areas of research to enable an unprecedented chemical reaction that neither could broadly achieve on its own. The resulting bond formation could provide an excellent shortcut for chemists as they construct and test thousands of molecules to find new drugs.



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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Emergence of bacterial vortex explained

When a bunch of B. subtilis bacteria are confined within a droplet of water, a very strange thing happens. The chaotic motion of individual swimmers spontaneously organizes into a swirling vortex, with bacteria on the outer edge of the droplet moving in one direction while those on the inside move the opposite direction. Researchers have now explained for the first time how that dual-motion vortex is generated.



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Treading into gray area along spectrum of wood decay fungi

A fungus that can break down all the components of plant cell walls is considered a white rot fungus. If it can only break down cellulose and hemicellulose, it's a brown rot fungus. A research team suggests that categorizing wood-decaying fungi may be more complicated, broadening the range of fungal decay strategies to be explored for commercializing biofuels production.



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Scientists use X-rays to look at how DNA protects itself from UV light

The molecular building blocks that make up DNA absorb ultraviolet light so strongly that sunlight should deactivate them -- yet it does not. Now scientists have made detailed observations of a 'relaxation response' that protects these molecules, and the genetic information they encode, from UV damage.



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Monday, June 23, 2014

BPA Substitute as bad as BPA? Exposure to BPA substitute causes hyperactivity and brain changes in fish

A chemical found in many “BPA free” consumer products, known as bisphenol S (BPS), is just as potent as bisphenol A (BPA) in altering brain development and causing hyperactive behavior, an animal study finds.



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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Sweetest calculator in the world: Sugar molecules used as part of a chemical sequence for information processing

A rectangular plastic board with 384 small wells is the setting for a chemist-researcher. The chemist carefully pipets some drops of sugar solution into a row of the tiny reaction vessels. As soon as the fluid has mixed with the contents of the vessels, fluorescence starts in some of the wells. What the chemist does here – with his own hands – could also be called in a very simplified way, the ‘sweetest computer in the world’. The reason: the sugar molecules used are part of a chemical sequence for information processing.



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Super-stretchable yarn is made of graphene

Researchers have developed a simple, scalable method of making graphene oxide fibers that are strong, stretchable and can be easily scrolled into yarns with strengths approaching that of Kevlar.



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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Achilles' heel in antibiotic-resistant bacteria discovered

A breakthrough in the race to solve antibiotic resistance has been made by scientists. New research reveals an Achilles' heel in the defensive barrier that surrounds drug-resistant bacterial cells. The findings pave the way for a new wave of drugs that kill superbugs by bringing down their defensive walls rather than attacking the bacteria itself. It means that in future, bacteria may not develop drug-resistance at all.



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One step to solar-cell efficiency: Chemical process may improve manufacturing

Scientists have created a one-step process for producing highly efficient materials that let the maximum amount of sunlight reach a solar cell. Scientists found a simple way to etch nanoscale spikes into silicon that allows more than 99 percent of sunlight to reach the cells' active elements, where it can be turned into electricity.



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Re-routing flights could reduce climate impact, research suggests

Aircraft can become more environmentally friendly by choosing flight paths that reduce the formation of their distinctive condensation trails, new research suggests.



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Winds of change for the shipping sector

Wind propulsion such as kites and Flettner rotors could offer a viable route to help cut carbon dioxide emissions in the shipping sector, according to researchers.



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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Familiar yet strange: Water's 'split personality' revealed by computer model

Using computer models, researchers found that as water freezes it takes on a sort of split personality wherein, at very cold temperatures and above a certain pressure, it may spontaneously split into two liquid forms. Finding this dual nature could lead to a better understanding of how water behaves in high-altitude clouds, which could improve the predictive ability of current weather and climate models.



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New method to identify inks could help preserve historical documents

The inks on historical documents can hold many secrets. Its ingredients can help trace trade routes and help understand a work's historical significance. And knowing how the ink breaks down can help cultural heritage scientists preserve valuable treasures. Researchers report the development of a new, non-destructive method that can identify many types of inks on various papers and other surfaces.



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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Move over, silicon, there's a new circuit in town

When it comes to electronics, silicon will now have to share the spotlight. Scientists have now overcome a major issue in carbon nanotube technology by developing a flexible, energy-efficient hybrid circuit combining carbon nanotube thin film transistors with other thin film transistors. This hybrid could take the place of silicon as the traditional transistor material used in electronic chips, since carbon nanotubes are more transparent, flexible, and can be processed at a lower cost.



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Chemical pollution of European waters is worse than anticipated

Substantial improvements in freshwater quality by 2015 have been a declared objective of the EU member states, manifesting itself by the requirements of the Water Framework Directive. A recent study shows that this target is unlikely to be met due to the high levels of toxicants in the water bodies. One of the reasons: current measures for the improvement of water quality do not account for the effects of toxic chemicals. The study demonstrates for the first time on a pan-European scale that the ecological risks posed by toxic chemicals are considerably greater than has generally been assumed.



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Quantum biology: Algae evolved to switch quantum coherence on and off

Scientists have discovered how algae that survive in very low levels of light are able to switch on and off a weird quantum phenomenon that occurs during photosynthesis. The function in the algae of this quantum effect, known as coherence, remains a mystery, but it is thought it could help them harvest energy from the sun much more efficiently. Working out its role in a living organism could lead to advances such as better organic solar cells.



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Monday, June 16, 2014

Bioscavengers: New discoveries could help neutralize chemical weapons

Researchers are a step closer to creating a prophylactic drug that would neutralize the deadly effects of the chemical weapons used in Syria and elsewhere. Scientists are trying to engineer enzymes -- called bioscavengers -- so they work more efficiently against chemical weapons.



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Decontamination system to up research on space station

Just like eating, drinking and even trying to wash your hair aboard the International Space Station, conducting science experiments in space is not a simple task for astronauts. There are so many more factors for crews to consider than scientists on Earth have to worry about. If not contained, microgravity can turn gasses, dust, fluids and sharp objects into a floating nightmare.



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Wind turbine payback: Environmental lifecycle assessment of 2-megawatt wind turbines

Researchers have carried out an environmental lifecycle assessment of 2-megawatt wind turbines mooted for a large wind farm in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. They conclude that in terms of cumulative energy payback, or the time to produce the amount of energy required of production and installation, a wind turbine with a working life of 20 years will offer a net benefit within five to eight months of being brought online.



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Glucose monitoring for diabetes made easy with a blood-less method

Treating diabetes – a major scourge of humanity bothering millions of people – requires a constant monitoring of the human blood for glucose concentrations. While current schemes employ electrochemical methods, they require extraction of blood samples. By using glucose-sensitive dyes and a nano-plasmonic interferometer, a research team has shown how to achieve much higher sensitivities in real-time measurements while using only saliva instead of blood.



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Sunday, June 15, 2014

New composite protects from corrosion at high mechanical stress

A composite material that prevents metal corrosion in an environmentally friendly way, even under extreme conditions, is being announced by researchers. It can be used wherever metals are exposed to severe weather conditions, aggressive gases, media containing salt, heavy wear or high pressures.



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Friday, June 13, 2014

High electron mobility gases generated in semiconductor nanowires for first time

Nanotechnology, optics and photovoltaic energy are among the fields that can benefit from advances in knowledge on semiconductor nanowire systems. Researchers have succeeded to prove, for the first time, the accumulation of high electron mobility gases in multilayer nanowires from a technique called “remote doping”.



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