Friday, July 31, 2015

Breaking reactivity barriers

A phosphorus-based ligand facilitates palladium-catalyzed coupling of challenging building blocks, scientists report.

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Protein machines make fluctuating flows unconsciously

Protein machines, regardless of their specific functions, can collectively induce fluctuating hydrodynamic flows and substantially enhance the diffusive motions of particles in the cell, an international research group has demonstrated.

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Transparent, electrically conductive network of encapsulated silver nanowires

A transparent electrode with high electrical conductivity has been developed for solar cells and other optoelectronic components -- that uses minimal amounts of material. It consists of a random network of silver nanowires that is coated with aluminium-doped zinc oxide. The novel electrode requires about 70 times less silver than conventional silver grid electrodes, but possesses comparable electrical conductivity.

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How to look for a few good catalysts

Two key physical phenomena take place at the surfaces of materials: catalysis and wetting. A catalyst enhances the rate of chemical reactions; wetting refers to how liquids spread across a surface. Non-wetting surfaces promote chemical reaction rates, new research confirms.

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Heating and cooling with light leads to ultrafast DNA diagnostics

Researchers used LEDs and a thin film of gold to turbocharge the heating and cooling cycles of the PCR test so results are ready in minutes, not hours. The innovation greatly expands the clinical and research applications of a workhorse lab tool used in forensics, medical diagnostics and more.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sugar in your cuppa not just about a sweet tooth

New research has given tea and coffee drinkers new information about why their favorite drinks taste as they do. The study shows that sugar has an important effect in reducing the bitterness of tea and coffee, not just by masking it but by influencing the fundamental chemistry.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Technology developed to reduce cost of purifying natural gas

A cutting-edge method of reducing the carbon dioxide content of natural gas, a process of major economic and environmental importance in the oil and gas industry, has been developed by scientists.

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Scientists’ new chemical blueprint could be the answer to tackling stone theft

Scientists hope their early trials of a new chemical blueprint technique could assist a crackdown on stone theft.

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Don't call them stiff: Metal organic frameworks show unexpected flexibility

Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) are proving to be incredibly flexible with a myriad of potential applications including as antimicrobial agents, hydrogen-storage materials and solar-cell components. And despite their rigid-sounding name, researchers are reporting that MOF structures are also dynamic -- much more so than previously thought. This discovery could lead to the synthesis of brand-new types of materials.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New chemistry makes strong bonds weak

Researchers have developed a new chemical reaction that breaks the strongest bond in a molecule instead of the weakest, completely reversing the norm for reactions in which bonds are evenly split to form reactive intermediates. The non-conventional reaction is a proof of concept that will allow chemists to access compounds that are normally off-limits to this pathway.

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'Seeing' molecular interactions could give boost to organic electronics

For the first time, researchers have directly seen how organic molecules bind to other materials at the atomic level. Using a special kind of electron microscopy, this information can lead to increasing the life span of electronic devices, for example.

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Lobster-eye imager detects soft X-ray emissions

A group of scientists have described developing and launching their imager, which centers on "Lobster-Eye optics," as well as its capabilities and future applications in space exploration.

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UV light can kill foodborne pathogens on certain fruits

The growing organic produce industry may soon have a new way to ensure the safety of fresh fruits. Scientists have shown that ultraviolet C light is effective against foodborne pathogens on the surface of certain fruits.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light into electricity

Solar energy could be made cheaper if solar cells could be coaxed to generate more power. A huge gain in this direction has been made by a team of chemists that has found an ingenious way to make solar energy conversion more efficient. The researchers combined inorganic semiconductor nanocrystals with organic molecules to 'upconvert' photons in the visible and near-infrared regions of the solar spectrum.

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Researchers predict material with record-setting melting point

Using powerful computer simulations, researchers have identified a material with a higher melting point than any known substance. The computations show that a material made with hafnium, nitrogen, and carbon would have a melting point of more than 4,400 kelvins (7,460 degrees Fahrenheit). That's about two-thirds the temperature at the surface of the sun, and 200 kelvins higher than the highest melting point ever recorded experimentally.

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Mechanism of an enzyme for biofuel production

Missing link in microbial cellulose decomposition


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Acetic acid as a proton shuttle in gold chemistry

A new study gives a vivid example of unusual chemical reactivity found in the reactions with organogold complexes. Using the complex of modern physical methods joined with computational studies, the authors proposed reaction mechanism, where a molecule of acetic acid serves as a proton shuttle, transferring the hydrogen atom between the reaction centers.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Insights into catalytic converters

How do catalytic converters work? Scientists have studied the reactions under close-to-reality conditions: With the help of X-rays, they observed the interactions of the nitrogen monoxide pollutant molecule and of the reduction agent ammonia with iron and copper centers, i.e. transition metal ions in Fe-ZSM-5 and Cu-SSZ-13, where the reaction takes place. Their results can now be used to further improve the exhaust gas aftertreatment.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Nanotechnology research leads to super-elastic conducting fibers for artificial muscles, sensors

Scientists describe in a new study how they constructed elastic conducting fibers by wrapping lighter-than-air, electrically conductive sheets of tiny carbon nanotubes to form a jelly-roll-like sheath around a long rubber core.

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Cages offer new direction in sustainable catalyst design

Engineers have developed a new approach to structuring the catalysts used in essential reactions in the chemical and energy fields. The advance offers a pathway for industries to wean themselves off of platinum, one of the scarcest metals in Earth's crust.

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Ultra-thin hollow nanocages could reduce platinum use in fuel cell electrodes

A new fabrication technique that produces platinum hollow nanocages with ultra-thin walls could dramatically reduce the amount of the costly metal needed to provide catalytic activity in such applications as fuel cells.

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Synthetic coral could remove toxic heavy metals from the ocean

A new material that mimics coral could help remove toxic heavy metals like mercury from the ocean, according to a new study. The researchers say their new material could provide inspiration for other approaches to removing pollutants.

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Breakthrough in knowledge of how nanoparticles grow

Researchers have for the first time observed the growth of free nanoparticles in helium gas in a process similar to the decaffeination of coffee, providing new insights into the structure of nanoparticles.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New molecular butterflies help advance energy research

A new family of molecules that physically resemble butterflies is pushing the boundary of new materials research, scientists report. With these precisely designed molecules, the team also plans to learn how to better control and direct larger quantities of energy, and convert photo energy to light, electricity, heat or even molecular motion at will. Their research efforts will lead to the development of better materials and more efficient devices, such as sensors, light bulbs and solar panels.

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Light of fireflies for medical diagnostics

Scientists have exploited the light of fireflies in a new method that detects biological molecules without the need for complex devices and high costs. The researchers were able to add a small chemical tag on the enzyme luciferase, which produces the light of fireflies. The tag detects a target protein, and the luciferase gives out a light signal that can be seen with a naked eye.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

An easy, scalable and direct method for synthesizing graphene in silicon microelectronics

In the last decade, graphene has been intensively studied for its unique optical, mechanical, electrical and structural properties. The one-atom-thick carbon sheets could revolutionize the way electronic devices are manufactured and lead to faster transistors, cheaper solar cells, new types of sensors and more efficient bioelectric sensory devices. As a potential contact electrode and interconnection material, wafer-scale graphene could be an essential component in microelectronic circuits, but most graphene fabrication methods are not compatible with silicon microelectronics, thus blocking graphene's leap from potential wonder material to actual profit-maker.

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Shallow fracking raises questions for drinking water

Scientist's investigations show that drinking water sources may be threatened by thousands of shallow oil and gas wells mined with the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing. A new study suggests safeguards.

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Rock paper fungus

Believe it or not: X-ray works a lot better on rocks than on paper. This has been a problem for conservators trying to save historical books and letters. They frankly did not know what they were up against once fungi started to spot the surface of their documents. Now an imaging specialist has managed to get a first look at how fungus goes about infesting paper.

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Spintronics: Molecules stabilizing magnetism

Organic molecules allow producing printable electronics and solar cells with extraordinary properties. In spintronics, too, molecules open up the unexpected possibility of controlling the magnetism of materials and, thus, the spin of the flowing electrons. A thin layer of organic molecules can stabilize the magnetic orientation of a cobalt surface, according to new research.

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Fluorescent material reveals how cells grow

Fiber from a semiconducting polymer, developed for solar cells, is an excellent support material for the growth of new human tissue. Researchers have shown that the fiber glows, which makes it possible to follow the growth of the cells inside living tissue.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Fossil fuel emissions will complicate radiocarbon dating

Fossil fuel emissions could soon make it impossible for radiocarbon dating to distinguish new materials from artefacts that are hundreds of years old.

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Perovskite solar technology shows quick energy returns

In the solar power research community, a new class of materials called perovskites is causing quite a buzz, as scientists search for technology that has a better 'energy payback time' than the silicon-based solar panels currently dominating the market. Now, a new study reports that perovskite modules are better than any commercially available solar technology when products are compared on the basis of energy payback time.

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Spintronics just got faster

In a tremendous boost for spintronic technologies, scientists have shown that electrons can jump through spins much faster than previously thought.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Metal foams capable of shielding X-rays, gamma rays, neutron radiation

Research shows lightweight composite metal foams are effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of high impact collisions. The finding means metal foams hold promise for use in nuclear safety, space exploration and medical technology applications.

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Nanowires give 'solar fuel cell' efficiency a tenfold boost

Researchers have developed a very promising prototype of a new solar celll. The material gallium phosphide enables their solar cell to produce the clean fuel hydrogen gas from liquid water. Processing the gallium phosphide in the form of very small nanowires is novel and helps to boost the yield by a factor of ten. And does so using ten thousand times less precious material.

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Unique material created for the next generation solar cells

Researchers have developed material which offers much cheaper alternative to the one which is currently being used in hybrid solar cells. The efficiency of the semi-conductors created by the team of chemists has been confirmed.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Model for robots with bacteria-controlled brains

A scientist used a mathematical model to demonstrate that bacteria can control the behavior of an inanimate device like a robot.

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For faster, larger graphene add a liquid layer

Millimetre-sized crystals of high-quality graphene can be made in minutes instead of hours using a new scalable technique, researchers have demonstrated.

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From power grids to heartbeat: Using mathematics to restore rhythm

When a rhythm stalls, the effect can be fatal -- in a power grid it can mean a blackout, and in the human heart even death. An international team of scientists has now developed a new approach for revoking these undesired quenching states. They use an advanced mathematical methodology, building on complex networks analysis, and demonstrate it in experiments with chemical reactions.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New fuel-cell materials pave the way for practical hydrogen-powered cars

Hydrogen fuel cells promise clean cars that emit only water. Several major car manufacturers have recently announced their investment to increase the availability of fueling stations, while others are rolling out new models and prototypes. However, challenges remain, including the chemistry to produce and use hydrogen and oxygen gas efficiently. Today two research teams report advances on chemical reactions essential to fuel-cell technology.

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Plantations of nanorods on carpets of graphene capture the Sun's energy

The Sun can be a better chemist, thanks to zinc oxide nanorod arrays grown on a graphene substrate and 'decorated' with dots of cadmium sulphide. In the presence of solar radiation, this combination of zero and one-dimensional semiconductor structures with two-dimensional graphene is a great catalyst for many chemical reactions.

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Molecular fuel cell catalysts hold promise for efficient energy storage

In the quest for better, less expensive ways to store and use energy, platinum and other precious metals play an important role. They serve as catalysts to propel the most efficient fuel cells, but they are costly and rare. Now, a metal-free alternative catalyst for fuel cells may be at hand.

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Certain air filters using photocatalytic oxidation have dangerous by-product, study shows

Imagine if, in an effort to clean the air more efficiently, you were involuntarily introducing chemicals more dangerous than the ones you were trying to scrub. Researchers have found that this exact situation is happening with a type of air filter called photocatalytic oxidation, a product already on the market. The chemical by-product? Formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen.

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New family of chemical structures can effectively remove CO2 from gas mixtures

A newly discovered family of chemical structures could increase the value of biogas and natural gas that contains carbon dioxide.

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'White graphene' structures can take the heat

Three-dimensional structures of boron nitride sheets and nanotubes may offer a way to keep small electronic devices cool, according to scientists.

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A portable 'paper machine' can diagnose disease for less than $2

In the US and other industrialized nations, testing for infectious diseases and cancer often requires expensive equipment and highly trained specialists. In countries where resources are limited, performing the same diagnostics is far more challenging. To address this disparity, scientists are developing a portable, low-cost 'paper machine' for point-of-care detection of infectious diseases, genetic conditions and cancer.

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Are fuel cells environmentally friendly? Not always

Fuel cells are regarded as the technology of the future for both cars and household heating systems. As a result, they have a key role to play in the switch to renewable energies. But are fuel cells always more environmentally friendly? An international team of scientists performed a series of calculations and reached a conclusion: It depends on the fuel.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Nanospheres shield chemo drugs, safely release high doses in response to tumor secretions

Scientists coated nanospheres of the anti-cancer drug paclitaxel with a peptide shell that shields the drug as it travels through the circulatory system. When the nanosphere reaches a cancerous tumor, enzymes that enable metastasis slice open the shell to release the drug. The targeted delivery allowed them to safely give mice 16 times the maximum tolerated dose of the clinical formulation of paclitaxel and halted the growth of cancerous tumors.

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Potential of blue LEDs as novel chemical-free food preservation technology

A team of scientists has found that blue light emitting diodes (LEDs) have strong antibacterial effect on major foodborne pathogens, and are most effective when in cold temperatures (between 4°C and 15°C) and mildly acidic conditions of around pH 4.5. This opens up novel possibilities of using blue LEDs as a chemical-free food preservation method.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Chemotherapeutic coatings enhance tumor-frying nanoparticles

In a move akin to adding chemical weapons to a firebomb, researchers have devised a method to deposit a thin layer of hydrogels on the surface of nanoshells designed to absorb infrared light and generate heat to destroy tumors. When heated by the nanoshells, these special hydrogels lose their water content and any drugs trapped within, creating a formidable one-two punch.

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