Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chemists demonstrate 'brick-and-mortar' assembly of new molecular structures

Chemists have described the self-assembly of large, symmetrical molecules in bricks-and-mortar fashion, a development with potential value for the field of organic electronic devices such as field-effect transistors and photovoltaic cells.



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Solar energy: Dyes help harvest light

A new dye-sensitized solar cell absorbs a broad range of visible and infrared wavelengths. Dye-sensitized solar cells rely on dyes that absorb light to mobilize a current of electrons and are a promising source of clean energy. Scientists have now developed zinc porphyrin dyes that harvest light in both the visible and near-infrared parts of the spectrum.



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Heat-responsive polymers that do not breakdown in water may lead to new antifouling coatings and enhanced oil recovery

Heat-responsive polymers that do not breakdown in water may lead to new antifouling coatings and enhanced oil recovery.



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Toward a home test for detecting potentially dangerous levels of caffeine

The shocking news of an Ohio teen who died of a caffeine overdose in May highlighted the potential dangers of the normally well-tolerated and mass-consumed substance. To help prevent serious health problems that can arise from consuming too much caffeine, scientists are reporting progress toward a rapid, at-home test to detect even low levels of the stimulant in most beverages and even breast milk.



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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New catalyst converts carbon dioxide to fuel

Scientists have synthesized a catalyst that improves their system for converting waste carbon dioxide into syngas, a precursor of gasoline and other energy-rich products, bringing the process closer to commercial viability.



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World's smallest propeller could be used for microscopic medicine

Scientists have created robots that are only nanometers in length, small enough to maneuver inside the human body and possibly inside human cells.



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Mysterious molecules in space: Silicon-capped hydrocarbons may be source of 'diffuse interstellar bands'

New research has offered a tantalizing new possibility in the realm of interstellar molecules and diffuse interstellar bands: these mysterious molecules may be silicon-capped hydrocarbons like SiC3H, SiC4H and SiC5H.



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A new way to make microstructured surfaces: Method can produce strong, lightweight materials with specific surface properties

A team of researchers has created a new way of manufacturing microstructured surfaces that have novel three-dimensional textures. These surfaces, made by self-assembly of carbon nanotubes, could exhibit a variety of useful properties -- including controllable mechanical stiffness and strength, or the ability to repel water in a certain direction.



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From finding Nemo to minerals: What riches lie in the deep sea?

As fishing and the harvesting of metals, gas and oil have expanded deeper and deeper into the ocean, scientists are drawing attention to the services provided by the deep sea, the world’s largest environment.



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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mineral magic? Common mineral capable of making and breaking bonds

Researchers have demonstrated how a common mineral acts as a catalysts for specific hydrothermal organic reactions -- negating the need for toxic solvents or expensive reagents.



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Researchers produce record-length mirror-image protein

Biochemists have reported an advance in the production of functional mirror-image proteins. In a new study, they have chemically synthesized a record-length mirror-image protein and used this protein to demonstrate that a cellular chaperone, which helps "fold" large or complex proteins into their functional state, has a previously unappreciated talent -- the ability to fold mirror-image proteins. These findings will greatly facilitate mirror-image protein production for applications in drug discovery and synthetic biology.



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Cool-burning flames in space, could lead to better engines on Earth

Scientists have discovered a new type of cool burning flames that could lead to cleaner, more efficient engines for cars. The discovery was made during a series of experiments on the International Space Station.



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New way to determine cancer risk of chemicals found

It is possible to predict long-term cancer risk from a chemical exposure by measuring the short-term effects of that same exposure, new research has found. The findings will make it possible to develop simpler and cheaper tests to screen chemicals for their potential cancer causing risk.



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Monday, July 28, 2014

'Holy grail' of battery design achieved: Stable lithium anode

Researchers report that they have taken a big step toward accomplishing what battery designers have been trying to do for decades -- design a pure lithium anode. All batteries have three basic components: an electrolyte to provide electrons, an anode to discharge those electrons, and a cathode to receive them. The nanosphere layer of a newly created battery design resembles a honeycomb: it creates a flexible, uniform and non-reactive film that protects the unstable lithium from the drawbacks that have made it such a challenge.



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Saturday, July 26, 2014

New approach to form non-equilibrium structures

Researchers get closer to understanding the fundamentals of non-equilibrium, self-assembled structures, unlocking potential in a variety of fields. By injecting energy through oscillations, researchers can force particles to self assemble under non-equilibrium conditions, they report.



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Friday, July 25, 2014

New system to detect mercury in water systems

A new ultra-sensitive, low-cost and portable system for detecting mercury in environmental water has been developed by researchers. "The promising sensing performance of this system along with its cost-competiveness and portability make it an excellent potential alternative to current analytical techniques," says the project's leader. "This technique could provide the basis for future point-of-analysis systems for monitoring water quality on site and may help implement better monitoring processes around the world."



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Breakthrough laser experiment reveals liquid-like motion of atoms within an ultra-cold cluster

A new study has furthered our understanding of how tiny nanosystems function, unlocking the potential to create new materials using nanosized ‘building blocks’.



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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cost-effective, solvothermal synthesis of heteroatom (S or N)-doped graphene developed

A research team has developed cost-effective technology to synthesize sulfur-doped and nitrogen-doped graphenes which can be applied as high performance electrodes for secondary batteries and fuel cells.



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Dream come true for chemists? Creating organic zeolites

Traditionally, zeolites have been derived from inorganic material like silicon or aluminum. For the past several years, one research team has focused on combining zeolites with organic polymers whose main component is carbon, oxygen, hydrogen or nitrogen. A new technique and the new materials it produces can be immediately useful in catalysis and separations for chemicals production and hydrocarbon conversion for energy applications.



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Dead body feeding larvae useful in forensic investigations

Non-biting blow fly Chrysomya megacephala is commonly found in dead bodies and is used in forensic investigations to determine the time of death, referred to as the post mortem interval. A report of synanthropic derived form of C. megacephala from Tamil Nadu is provided for the first time based on morphological features and molecular characterization through generation of DNA barcoding.



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Nano-sized chip picks up scent of explosives molecules better than dog's nose

A groundbreaking nanotechnology-inspired sensor picks up the scent of explosives molecules better than a detection dog's nose. The device is mobile, inexpensive, and highly accurate, detecting explosives in the air at concentrations as low as a few molecules per 1,000 trillion. Existing explosives sensors are expensive, bulky and require expert interpretation of the findings.



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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Eco-pottery product from water treatment sludge

Sludge obtained from water treatment plants were studied as suitable materials to be used in the pottery industry to make suitable pottery products.



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Spinach could lead to alternative energy more powerful than Popeye

Spinach gave Popeye super strength, but it also holds the promise of a different power for a group of scientists: the ability to convert sunlight into a clean, efficient alternative fuel. Physicists are using spinach to study the proteins involved in photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert the sun's energy into carbohydrates used to power cellular processes. Artificial photosynthesis could allow for the conversion of solar energy into renewable, environmentally friendly hydrogen-based fuels.



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Electronic nose could aid in rescue missions

Researchers have developed a device that allows multiple robotic platforms to follow the path of certain odors. A technology which could aid the search and rescue of people in case of natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes or floods.



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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

First total synthesis of madangamine D, a molecule of biomedical interest

Madangamines are a group of polycyclic alkaloids from marine sponges which have biomedical interest due to their cytotoxic activity. Chemists have now completed the first total synthesis of madangamine D, a scientific discovery in the field of organic chemistry.



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New method created to draw molecules from live cells

A new method for extracting molecules from live cells without disrupting cell development has been devised by scientists, work that could provide new avenues for the diagnosis of cancer and other diseases. The researchers used magnetized carbon nanotubes to extract biomolecules from live cells, allowing them to retrieve molecular information without killing the individual cells.



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Monday, July 21, 2014

Chemists eye improved thin films with metal substitution

The yield so far is small, but chemists have developed a low-energy, solution-based mineral substitution process to make a precursor to transparent thin films that could find use in electronics and alternative energy devices.



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More than glitter: How gold nanoparticles easily penetrate cells, making them useful for delivering drugs

A special class of tiny gold particles can easily slip through cell membranes, making them good candidates to deliver drugs directly to target cells. Scientists can now explain how gold nanoparticles easily penetrate cells, making them useful for delivering drugs.



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Replacing coal, oil with natural gas will not help fight global warming, expert argues

Both shale gas and conventional natural gas have a larger greenhouse gas footprint than do coal or oil, especially for the primary uses of residential and commercial heating. "While emissions of carbon dioxide are less from natural gas than from coal and oil, methane emissions are far greater. Methane is such a potent greenhouse gas that these emissions make natural gas a dangerous fuel from the standpoint of global warming over the next several decades," said the author of a new article.



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A noble gas cage: New material traps gases from nuclear fuel better and uses less energy than currently available options

A new material called CC3 effectively traps xenon, krypton, and radon. These gases are used in industries such as lighting or medicine and, in the case of radon, one that can be hazardous when it accumulates in buildings. New research shows how: by breathing enough to let the gases in but not out. The results might lead to cheaper, less energy intensive ways to extract these gases.



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Friday, July 18, 2014

Tragic: Indiana University Chem PhD Candidate on Downed Malaysian Flight

Indiana University student Karlijn Keijzer was a passenger aboard Malaysian flight 17 which crashed in Ukraine on July 17. The 25 year old was a PhD candidate in chemistry on vacation when she died. A great loss for chemistry. A great loss for all of us.


Fox59 Indianapolis has an interview and nice video tribute with a friend of Karlijn’s talking about her life and the memories they had together. Karlijn was a member of the IU rowing team and had recently earned her master’s degree from IU.


Thoughts and prayers on behalf of the entire Chemistry-Blog team.






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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cheap, highly efficient solar cells: A new stable and cost-cutting type of perovskite solar cell

Scientists have made a very efficient perovskite solar cell that does not require a hole-conducting layer. The novel photovoltaic achieved energy conversion efficiency of 12.8 percent and was stable for over 1000 hours under full sunlight. The innovation is expected to significantly reduce the cost of these promising solar cells.



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Scientists experimentally re-create conditions deep inside giant planets, such as Jupiter and many exo-planets

Using the largest laser in the world, scientists for the first time have experimentally re-created the conditions that exist deep inside giant planets, such as Jupiter, Uranus and many of the planets recently discovered outside our solar system.



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When is a molecule a molecule? Scientists watch fast electron jumps in exploding molecules

Using ultra-short X-ray flashes, an international team of researchers watched electrons jumping between the fragments of exploding molecules. The study reveals up to what distance charge transfer between the molecular fragments can occur, marking the limit of the molecular regime. Such mechanisms play a role in numerous chemical processes, including photosynthesis.



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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Dispersant from Deepwater Horizon spill found to persist in the environment

Dispersant compound DOSS, which decreases the size of oil droplets and hampers the formation of large oil slicks, remains associated with oil and can persist in the environment for up to four years, a study has demonstrated. The study examined samples collected from deep-sea corals and surrounding sediments collected in Dec. 2010 as well as oil-soaked sand patties found on coastal beaches since July 2010 to the present.



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Efficient structures help build a sustainable future

Researchers have found that the selection of steel cable structural system for long spans has considerably less environmental impact than a steel truss system to achieve the same structural requirements, through the entire life cycle of the structure. "Thoughtful selection, by the architectural engineer, in the initial stages of the design process, can reduce environmental impact related to the construction process," said one author of the new study.



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Bubble wrap serves as sheet of tiny test tubes in resource-limited regions

Popping the blisters on the bubble wrap might be the most enjoyable thing about moving. But now, scientists propose a more productive way to reuse the popular packing material -- as a sheet of small, test tube-like containers for medical and environmental samples. Their report shows that analyses can take place right in the bubbles.



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Extending Moore's Law: Shrinking transistor size for smaller, more efficient computers

Over the years, computer chips have gotten smaller thanks to advances in materials science and manufacturing technologies. This march of progress, the doubling of transistors on a microprocessor roughly every two years, is called Moore's Law. But there's one component of the chip-making process in need of an overhaul if Moore's law is to continue: the chemical mixture called photoresist. In a bid to continue decreasing transistor size while increasing computation and energy efficiency, chip-maker Intel has partnered with researchers to design an entirely new kind of resist.



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Best-ever efficiency points to clean, green gas-diesel engine

The one-cylinder test engine in the basement of a University of Wisconsin-Madison lab is connected to a life-support system of pipes, tubes, ducts and cables. You might think that the engine resembles a patient in intensive care, but in this case, the patient is not sick. Instead, the elaborate monitoring system shows that the engine can convert 59.5 percent of the chemical energy in its fuel into motion — significantly better than the 52 percent maximum in modern diesel truck engines.



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3-D nanostructure could benefit nanoelectronics, gas storage: functional advantages of 3-D boron nitride predicted

A three-dimensional porous nanostructure would have a balance of strength, toughness and ability to transfer heat that could benefit nanoelectronics, gas storage and composite materials that perform multiple functions, according to engineers.



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New assay to spot fake malaria drugs could save thousands of lives

Chemists have created a new type of chemical test, or assay, that's inexpensive, simple, and can tell whether or not one of the primary drugs being used to treat malaria is genuine -- an enormous and deadly problem in the developing world. If widely used it could help save hundreds of thousands of lives.



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Nanophotonics experts create powerful molecular sensor

Nanophotonics experts have created a unique sensor that amplifies the optical signature of molecules by about 100 billion times. Newly published tests found the device could accurately identify the composition and structure of individual molecules containing fewer than 20 atoms.



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Directly visualizing hydrogen bonds

Using a newly developed, ultrafast femtosecond infrared light source, chemists have been able to directly visualize the coordinated vibrations between hydrogen-bonded molecules -- the first time this sort of chemical interaction, which is found in nature everywhere at the molecular level, has been directly visualized.



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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Labs characterize carbon for lithion-ion batteries

Researchers have found a universal descriptor of charge-transfer binding properties for carbon-based lithium-ion batteries. The model is based on intrinsic electronic characteristics of materials used as battery anodes. These include the material's quantum capacitance (the ability of the material to absorb charge) and the material's absolute Fermi level, which determines how many lithium ions may bond to the electrodes.



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Quantum computers? First photonic router demonstrated

Scientists have demonstrated for the first time a photonic router -- a quantum device based on a single atom that enables routing of single photons by single photons. This achievement is another step toward overcoming the difficulties in building quantum computers.



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Technology produces clean-burning hydrogen fuel cheaply using carbon nanotubes

Researchers have developed a technology that could overcome a major cost barrier to make clean-burning hydrogen fuel -- a fuel that could replace expensive and environmentally harmful fossil fuels. The new technology is a novel catalyst that performs almost as well as cost-prohibitive platinum for so-called electrolysis reactions, which use electric currents to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The Rutgers technology is also far more efficient than less-expensive catalysts investigated to-date.



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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Researchers discover boron 'buckyball'

The discovery of buckyballs -- soccer-ball-shaped molecules of carbon -- helped usher in the nanotechnology era. Now, researchers have shown that boron, carbon's neighbor on the periodic table, can form a cage-like molecule similar to the buckyball. Until now, such a boron structure had only been a theoretical speculation. The researchers dubbed their new-found nanostructure 'borospherene.'



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Deep within spinach leaves, vibrations enhance efficiency of photosynthesis

Biophysics researchers have used short pulses of light to peer into the mechanics of photosynthesis and illuminate the role that molecule vibrations play in the energy conversion process that powers life on our planet.



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New technology reveals insights into mechanisms underlying amyloid diseases

Amyloid diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, type 2 diabetes, cataracts, and the spongiform encephalopathies, all share the common trait that proteins aggregate into long fibers which then form plaques. Yet in vitro studies have found that neither the amylin monomer precursors nor the plaques themselves are very toxic. New evidence using two-dimensional infrared (2D IR) spectroscopy has revealed an intermediate structure during the amylin aggregation pathway that may explain toxicity, opening a window for possible interventions, according to a report.



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Friday, July 11, 2014

Pressure cell for reproducing deep-Earth chemistry

A new pressure cell makes it possible to simulate chemical reactions deep in the Earth's crust. The device could allow insights into deep-Earth chemistry and carbon cycling, 'fracking' and nuclear waste disposal.



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