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The Lead

Protecting olive oil from counterfeiters

April 24, 2014 1:50 pm | by Barbara Vonarburg, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Counterfeit or adulterated olive oil has been a persistent presence on the market, in part because the oil is difficult to track. An invisible label, developed by researchers in Switzerland, could perform this task. The tag consists of tiny magnetic DNA particles encapsulated in a silica casing and mixed with the oil. Just a few grams of the new substance are enough to tag the entire olive oil production of Italy.

Double-duty electrolyte enables new chemistry for longer-lived batteries

April 24, 2014 11:44 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new and unconventional battery...

Chameleon crystals could make active camouflage possible

April 24, 2014 8:04 am | by Kate McAlpine, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

The ability to control crystals with light and chemistry could lead to chameleon-style color-...

The science of champagne fizz

April 23, 2014 11:18 am | News | Comments

The importance of fizz, more technically known as effervescence, in sparkling wines and...

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Trace Degradation Analysis of Lithium-Ion Battery Components

April 22, 2014 10:37 am | by Paul Voelker, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Sunnyvale, Calif. | Thermo Fisher Scientific | Articles | Comments

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are key components for portable electronics, medical devices, industrial equipment and automobiles. They are light weight, provide high energy density and recharge without memory effects. Much research has been spent on improving product safety, lifecycle and power output over a range of high and low temperatures, yet understanding fundamental processes and degradation mechanism remains a challenge.

Progress made in developing nanoscale electronics

April 22, 2014 8:39 am | News | Comments

Scientists are facing a number of barriers as they try to develop circuits that are microscopic in size, including how to reliably control the current that flows through a circuit that is the width of a single molecule. Recent work at the Univ. of Rochester may have solved this problem through the addition of a second, inert layer of molecules that can act like a plastic casing on the wires.

Scientists produce thinnest feasible membrane

April 18, 2014 3:10 pm | by Fabio Bergamin, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Researchers have produced a stable porous membrane that is thinner than a single nanometer. The membrane consists of two layers of graphene on which have been etched tiny pores of a precisely defined size. Extremely light and breathable, the new material could help enable a new generation of ultra-rapid filters or functional waterproof clothing.

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“Exotic” material is like a switch when super thin

April 18, 2014 3:05 pm | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Ever-shrinking electronic devices could get down to atomic dimensions with the help of transition metal oxides. Researchers from Cornell Univ. and Brookhaven National Laboratory have shown how to switch a particular transition metal oxide, a lanthanum nickelate (LaNiO3), from a metal to an insulator by making the material less than a nanometer thick.

Electrically controlled polymer changes its optical properties

April 18, 2014 8:28 am | News | Comments

An international team of chemists from Italy, Germany and Poland have developed a polymer with unique optical and electrical properties. Components of this polymer change their spatial configuration depending on the electric potential applied. In turn, the polarization of transmitted light is affected. The new material could be used in a windows, polarization filters or chemical sensors.

Surprising material could play role in saving energy

April 18, 2014 7:56 am | by Megan Fellman, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

One strategy for addressing the world’s energy crisis is to stop wasting so much energy when producing and using it, which can happen in coal-fired power plants or transportation. Nearly two-thirds of energy input is lost as waste heat. Now Northwestern Univ. scientists have discovered a surprising material that is the best in the world at converting waste heat to useful electricity.

Proper stem cell function requires hydrogen sulfide

April 17, 2014 3:02 pm | by Beth Newcomb, USC | News | Comments

A new study has discovered that stem cells in bone marrow need to produce hydrogen sulfide in order to properly multiply and form bone tissue. The presence of hydrogen sulfide produced by the cells governs the flow of calcium ions, which activates a chain of cellular signals that results in osteogenesis, or the creation of new bone tissue, and keeps the breakdown of old bone tissue at a proper level.

Relieving electric vehicle range anxiety with improved batteries

April 15, 2014 3:29 pm | News | Comments

The chemistry of lithium-ion batteries limits how much energy they can store, and one promising solution is the lithium-sulfur battery, which can hold as much as four times more energy per mass. However, problematic polysulfides usually cause lithium-sulfur batteries to fail after a few charges. Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, however, have developed a new powdery nanomaterial that could solve the issue.

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Nano shake-up: Nanocarriers fluctuate in size and shape

April 15, 2014 9:26 am | by Diane Kukich, Univ. of Delaware | News | Comments

Nanotechnology has unlocked new pathways for targeted drug delivery, including the use of nanocarriers that can transport cargoes of small-molecule therapeutics to specific locations in the body. Researchers have recently demonstrated that processing can have significant influence on the size of nanocarriers for targeted drug delivery. It was previously assumed that once a nanocarrier is created, it maintains its size and shape anywhere.

Life Sciences Chrome

April 15, 2014 9:04 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Thermo Fisher Scientific, Agilent Technologies Inc. | Articles | Comments

Driven by rapid growth in forensics, biotechnology, disease diagnostics and environmental regulations, chromatography systems have become a laboratory staple. Used for the separation of complex mixtures, detection of illicit drugs and the production of pharmaceuticals, the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are the prime users of chromatography techniques.

New finding on the dual role of carbon dioxide in photosynthesis

April 14, 2014 10:03 am | News | Comments

It is well known that inorganic carbon in the form of carbon dioxide, CO2, is reduced in a light driven process known as photosynthesis to organic compounds in the chloroplasts. Less well known is that inorganic carbon also affects the rate of the photosynthetic electron transport. Researchers in Sweden have recently found that its ionic form bicarbonate, has a regulating function in the splitting of water in photosynthesis.

Scientists discover way to make ethanol without corn, other plants

April 10, 2014 9:00 am | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Stanford Univ. scientists have found a new, highly efficient way to produce liquid ethanol from carbon monoxide gas. This promising discovery could provide an eco-friendly alternative to conventional ethanol production from corn and other crops, say the scientists. Their results are published online in Nature.

Recycling astronaut urine for energy and drinking water

April 9, 2014 3:09 pm | News | Comments

On the less glamorous side of space exploration, there’s the more practical problem of waste: in particular, what to do with astronaut pee. But rather than ejecting it into space, scientists are developing a new technique that can turn this waste burden into a boon by converting it into fuel and much-needed drinking water.

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A new “hope” for preservation of tissue samples for analysis

April 8, 2014 12:12 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have discovered that the so-called HOPE method allows tissue samples to be treated such that they do not only meet the requirements of clinical histology, but can still be characterized later on by modern methods of proteomics, a technique that analyzes all proteins at once. This differs from the traditional formalin-based approach that cross-links protein molecules.

Scale model World War II craft takes flight with fuel from the sea

April 7, 2014 6:06 pm | News | Comments

Navy researchers have recently demonstrated sustained flight of a radio-controlled P-51 fighter replica fueled by a new gas-to-liquid process that uses seawater as carbon feedstock. The fuel is made using an innovative and proprietary electrolytic cation exchange module that separates gases from water at 92% efficiency. Catalysis converts the gases to liquid hydrocarbons.

New findings to help extend high efficiency solar cells’ lifetime

April 7, 2014 1:27 pm | by Kathleen Estes, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology | News | Comments

Solid-state dye-sensitized solar cells have shown their potential in achieving high efficiency with a low cost of fabrication. Degradation of these cells shortens lifespan dramatically, however, and the causes of this are not well understood. After a detailed analysis, researchers in Okinawa have determined which material in the cells was degrading, and why.

Trees go high-tech: Process turns cellulose into energy storage devices

April 7, 2014 1:19 pm | News | Comments

Chemists have found that cellulose, the most abundant organic polymer on Earth, can be heated in a furnace in the presence of ammonia and turned into the building blocks for supercapacitors. The new process produces nitrogen-doped, nanoporous carbon membranes, which act as the electrodes of a supercapacitor. The only byproduct is methane, which could be used immediately as a fuel or for other purposes.

Rebar technique strengthens case for graphene

April 7, 2014 7:57 am | News | Comments

Carbon nanotubes are reinforcing bars that make 2-D graphene much easier to handle in a new hybrid material grown by researchers at Rice Univ. The Rice laboratory of chemist James Tour set nanotubes into graphene in a way that not only mimics how steel rebar is used in concrete but also preserves and even improves the electrical and mechanical qualities of both.

Chemists settle debate about conversion of light

April 3, 2014 1:54 pm | News | Comments

Chemists have settled the debate about a fundamental question that is relevant to the conversion of one color into another and demonstrated how to influence the efficiency of this process by changing the refractive index around the material.  

Researchers make clothes from sugar

April 3, 2014 1:25 pm | News | Comments

In the future, the clothes you wear could be made from sugar. Researchers have discovered a new chemical process that can convert adipic acid directly from sugar.                         

Researchers open path to finding rare, polarized metals

April 2, 2014 12:31 pm | Videos | Comments

Researchers are turning some of the basic tenets of chemistry and physics upside down to cut a trail toward the discovery of a new set of materials. They’re called “polar metals” and, according to many scientific principles, they probably shouldn’t exist.

Shape helps catalyst extract energy from biomass

April 2, 2014 6:06 am | News | Comments

Biomass is a good alternative for fossil fuels, but converting biomass into useful chemicals and fuels is difficult in practice. The metal oxide CeO2 can help the process by activating water, but until recent research in the Netherlands, it was not clear in which form the reactivity of this catalyst was highest.

Stem cell controversy sets back Japanese science

April 2, 2014 3:21 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The finding that a lead researcher falsified data in a widely heralded stem-cell research paper is a setback for Japan's efforts to promote its advanced research, but also a symptom of the pressure for breakthroughs in the field, experts say. The government-funded Riken Center for Development...

Carbon nanotubes grow in combustion flames

April 1, 2014 4:34 pm | News | Comments

Recent research in Japan, China and U.S. has revealed through theoretical simulations that the molecular mechanism of carbon nanotube growth and hydrocarbon combustion actually share many similarities. In studies using acetylene molecules as feedstock, a highly reactive molecular intermediate was found to play an important role in both processes forming CNTs and soot, which are two distinctively different structures.

Periodic puns: Chemistry jokes in time for April Fools’ Day

April 1, 2014 10:38 am | Videos | Comments

It’s April Fools’ Day, and the American Chemical Society’s Reactions video series is celebrating with an episode featuring their favorite chemistry jokes. Which two elements look cute together? Why is father water concerned about his “iced out” son? What do you get when you combine sulfur, tungsten and silver?

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