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The Lead

Who needs water to assemble DNA?

May 28, 2015 7:42 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Scientists around the world are using the programmability of DNA to assemble complex nanometer-scale structures. Until now, however, production of these artificial structures has been limited to water-based environments, because DNA naturally functions inside the watery environment of living cells. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have now shown that they can assemble DNA nanostructures in a solvent containing no water.

Expanding the code of life with new “letters”

May 28, 2015 7:29 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

The DNA encoding all life on Earth is made of four building blocks called nucleotides, commonly...

DNA mutations get harder to hide

May 26, 2015 7:34 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers have developed a method to detect rare DNA mutations with an approach...

Slinky lookalike “hyperlens” helps us see tiny objects

May 22, 2015 10:27 am | by Cory Nealon, Univ. at Buffalo | News | Comments

It looks like a Slinky suspended in motion. Yet this photonics advancement, called a...

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Modern alchemy

May 21, 2015 3:58 pm | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Chemists at The Scripps Research Institute have discovered a broad and strikingly inexpensive method for synthesizing “amines,” a class of organic compounds prominent in drugs and other modern products. The new reaction is particularly useful for synthesizing complex amines that would be highly valuable in pharmaceuticals, but are impractical—or impossible—to make with standard methods.

Survey on academic diversity shows little progress

May 21, 2015 10:49 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Despite efforts over decades to diversify the ranks of university faculty, only 4% of chemistry professorships at 50 leading U.S. colleges and universities are held by underrepresented minorities. That key finding and others related to diversity in academia came from a new survey conducted by a program called Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE) in partnership with Chemical & Engineering News.

Gauging materials’ physical properties from video

May 21, 2015 10:42 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Last summer, MIT researchers published a paper describing an algorithm that can recover intelligible speech from the analysis of the minute vibrations of objects in video captured through soundproof glass. In June, researchers from the same groups will describe how the technique can be adapted to infer material properties of physical objects, such as stiffness and weight, from video.

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Experimental Ebola treatment boosts survival in mice

May 21, 2015 8:25 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

The number of new Ebola cases is tapering off, but the search for new treatments continues. Now, one research team has found potential drug candidates that successfully treated up to 90% of mice exposed to the Ebola virus. They report their findings in ACS Infectious Diseases.

Mesoscale atoms (structures formed by microdroplets of water trapped in a drop of oil) produced at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland. Courtesy of IPC PAS

Amazing microdroplet structures may lead to new technologies

May 20, 2015 11:47 am | by IPC PAS | News | Comments

A team of researchers has unveiled a new method of controlling the shapes of structures—so called mesoatoms—formed by microdroplets placed inside another drop. The work increases the possibilities of controlling the processes of self-organization of matter. During their research, the scientists also managed for the first time to observe the formation of microdroplet structures with unexpected shapes.

A new, environmentally-friendly paper that glows could lead to sustainable, roll-up electronics. Courtesy of American Chemical Society

Toward 'green' paper-thin, flexible electronics

May 20, 2015 10:15 am | by ACS | News | Comments

The rapid evolution of gadgets has brought us an impressive array of "smart" products from phones to tablets, and now watches and glasses. But they still haven't broken free from their rigid form. Now, scientists are reporting ia new step toward bendable electronics. They have developed the first light-emitting, transparent and flexible paper out of environmentally friendly materials via a simple, suction-filtration method.

Artificial enzymes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions

May 19, 2015 8:14 am | by Univ. of Nottingham Malaysia Campus | News | Comments

Enzymes are biological catalysts that accelerate chemical reactions, such as the conversion of gaseous carbon dioxide into carbonates. Carbonates are the basic component of coral reefs, mollusc shells and kidney stones. Although naturally occurring enzymes would be ideal for converting human-generated carbon dioxide emissions into carbonates, they are generally incapable of coping with the extreme conditions of industrial plants.

How microbes acquire electricity in making methane

May 18, 2015 10:57 am | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Stanford Univ. scientists have solved a long-standing mystery about methanogens, unique microorganisms that transform electricity and carbon dioxide into methane. In a new study, the Stanford team demonstrates for the first time how methanogens obtain electrons from solid surfaces. The discovery could help scientists design electrodes for microbial "factories" that produce methane gas and other compounds sustainably.

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New cost-effective, sustainable chemical catalysts

May 18, 2015 10:26 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Univ. chemists have helped develop a family of new chemical catalysts that are expected to lower the cost and boost the sustainability of the production of chemical compounds used by a number of industries. The new catalysts are based on palladium, a rare and expensive metal. Palladium catalysts are used to form an array of chemical compounds in pharmaceuticals, plastics, agrochemicals and many other industries.

New link between ocean microbes, atmosphere uncovered

May 18, 2015 8:07 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Few things are more refreshing than the kiss of sea spray on your face. You may not realize it, but that cool, moist air influences our climate by affecting how clouds are formed and how sunlight is scattered over the oceans. In ACS Central Science, researchers demonstrate that microbes in seawater can control the chemistry of sea spray ejected into the atmosphere.

Solving streptide from structure to biosynthesis

May 18, 2015 7:31 am | by Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

Bacteria speak to one another using peptide signals in a soundless language known as quorum sensing. In a step towards translating bacterial communications, researchers at Princeton Univ. have revealed the structure and biosynthesis of streptide, a peptide involved in the quorum sensing system common to many streptococci.

Researchers used state of the art UV cameras and electron microscopes to analyze the eruptive plumes and ash generated by Volcán de Colima in Mexico

Study attributes varying explosivity to gaseous state within volcanoes

May 15, 2015 12:01 pm | by Alan Williams, Plymouth University | News | Comments

The varying scale and force of certain volcanic eruptions are directly influenced by the distribution of gases within magma inside a volcano’s conduit, according to a new study. Using state-of-the-art equipment, including UV cameras and electron microscopes, researchers led a project to analyze the eruptive plumes and ash generated by Volcán de Colima, the most active volcano in the Americas.

A high harmonic spectrometer © ETH Zurich

Physicists observe attosecond real-time restructuring of electron cloud in molecule

May 15, 2015 11:52 am | by Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology | News | Comments

The recombination of electron shells in molecules, taking just a few dozen attoseconds, can now be viewed “live,” thanks to a new method. To track processes taking virtually no time to happen, scientists used the pump-probe method. First, a molecule was impulsively oriented with one laser pulse. Then a second powerful, low-frequency laser pulse ionized the molecule, which generated high harmonic radiation.

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Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, studies the oil plumes generated by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout.

Further assessment needed of dispersants used in response to oil spills

May 15, 2015 11:28 am | by Alan Flurry, University of Georgia | News | Comments

New commentary argues for further in-depth assessments of the impacts of dispersants on microorganisms to guide their use in response to future oil spills. After the Deepwater Horizon spill, dispersants were used as a first line of defense, even though little is known about how they affect microbial communities or the biodegradation activities they are intended to spur.

New test detects drug use from a single fingerprint

May 15, 2015 8:56 am | by University of Surrey | News | Comments

Research has demonstrated a new, non-invasive test that can detect cocaine use through a simple fingerprint. For the first time, this new fingerprint method can determine whether cocaine has been ingested, rather than just touched.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

May 14, 2015 8:09 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Trapping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and various industries could play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the future. But current materials that can collect carbon dioxide have low capacities or require very high temperatures to work. Scientists are making progress toward a more efficient alternative, described in Chemistry of Materials, that could help make carbon capture less energy-intensive.

New shortcut to solar cells

May 13, 2015 4:38 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have found a way to simplify the manufacture of solar cells by using the top electrode as the catalyst that turns plain silicon into valuable black silicon. Black silicon is silicon with a highly textured surface of nanoscale spikes or pores that are smaller than the wavelength of light. The texture allows the efficient collection of light from any angle, at any time of day.

Artificial photosynthesis: New, stable photocathode with potential

May 13, 2015 9:14 am | by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin | News | Comments

Many of us are familiar with electrolytic splitting of water from their school days: If you hold two electrodes into an aqueous electrolyte and apply a sufficient voltage, gas bubbles of hydrogen and oxygen are formed. If this voltage is generated by sunlight in a solar cell, then you could store solar energy by generating hydrogen gas. This is because hydrogen is a versatile medium of storing and using "chemical energy".

Health benefits of used coffee grounds

May 13, 2015 8:57 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Coffee has gone from dietary foe to friend in recent years, partly due to the revelation that it’s rich in antioxidants. Now even spent coffee-grounds are gaining attention for being chock-full of these compounds, which have potential health benefits. In the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers explain how to extract antioxidants from the grounds. They then determined just how concentrated the antioxidants are.

Materials crystallize with surprising properties

May 13, 2015 8:20 am | by American Chemical Society | Videos | Comments

Think about your favorite toys as a child. Did they light up or make funny noises when you touched them? Maybe they changed shape or texture. In ACS Central Science, researchers report a new material that combines many of these characteristics. Beyond being fun, these materials, called organic “supercooled” liquids, may be useful for optical storage systems and biomedical sensors.

Molecular switch that promotes heart cell maturation discovered

May 13, 2015 7:34 am | by Michael McCarthy, Univ. of Washington Health Services | News | Comments

A molecular switch that seems to be essential for embryonic heart cells to grow into more mature, adult-like heart cells has been discovered. The discovery should help scientist better understand how human hearts mature. Of particular interest to stem cell and regenerative medicine researchers, the finding may lead to laboratory methods to create heart cells that function more like those found in adult hearts.

Researchers have recovered europium from the liquid mixture with UV light instead of a solvent. (c) KU Leuven - CIT

Separating rare earth metals with UV light

May 12, 2015 11:12 am | by KU Leuven | News | Comments

Researchers from the KU Leuven Department of Chemical Engineering have discovered a method to separate two rare earth elements—europium and yttrium—with UV light instead of with traditional solvents. Their findings, which were published in Green Chemistry, offer new opportunities for the recycling of fluorescent lamps and low-energy light bulbs.

Sunny news for medicine

May 8, 2015 8:57 am | by Univ. of Western Australia | News | Comments

Scientists have discovered an extraordinary protein-cutting enzyme that has also evolved to glue proteins together, a finding that may be valuable in the production of therapeutic drugs. They found the unusual enzyme in an ordinary plant, the sunflower. The researchers have unraveled the manufacturing route sunflowers use to make a super-stable protein ring.

Encouraging minerals to capture troubling radionuclides

May 8, 2015 8:28 am | by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Associated with contamination in certain spots around the world, pentavalent neptunium does not always behave the same as its stand-in when moving through the soil, according to scientists. The less studied pentavalent neptunium and the well-studied hexavalent uranium are incorporated at dramatically different levels in calcite and other carbonate minerals. Assimilation in minerals can limit the radionuclides migration.

Researchers develop custom artificial membranes

May 8, 2015 8:06 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

Decorating the outside of cells like tiny antenna, a diverse community of sugar molecules acts like a telecommunications system, sending and receiving information, recognizing and responding to foreign molecules and neighboring cells. This sugar part of biomembranes is as crucial to health as DNA, but not much is known about it.

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