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The Lead

Beyond the lithium ion

April 17, 2015 11:58 am | by Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago | News | Comments

The race is on around the world as scientists strive to develop a new generation of batteries that can perform beyond the limits of the current lithium-ion based battery. Researchers at the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago have taken a significant step toward the development of a battery that could outperform the lithium-ion technology used in electric cars such as the Chevy Volt.

Zinc deficiency linked to activation of Hedgehog signaling pathway

April 17, 2015 8:03 am | by Mary Martialay, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute | News | Comments

Zinc deficiency, long associated with numerous diseases like certain cancers, can lead to...

Kimchi-based preservative used in cosmetics isn’t so natural

April 16, 2015 11:25 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Some consumer groups concerned about the safety of synthetic preservatives such as parabens have...

Electrolyte genome could be battery game-changer

April 16, 2015 8:27 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new breakthrough battery, one that has significantly higher energy, lasts longer and is...

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BPA exposure in pregnant mice affects fertility in three generations

April 16, 2015 8:03 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

When scientists exposed pregnant mice to levels of bisphenol A (BPA) equivalent to those considered safe in humans, three generations of female mouse offspring experienced significant reproductive problems, including declines in fertility, sexual maturity and pregnancy success, the scientists report in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.

Cobalt film a clean-fuel find

April 16, 2015 7:51 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

A cobalt-based thin film serves double duty as a new catalyst that produces both hydrogen and oxygen from water to feed fuel cells, according to scientists at Rice Univ. The inexpensive, highly porous material may have advantages as a catalyst for the production of hydrogen via water electrolysis. A single film far thinner than a hair can be used as both the anode and cathode in an electrolysis device.

Packing heat: New fluid makes untapped geothermal energy cleaner

April 16, 2015 7:43 am | by Frances White, PNNL | Videos | Comments

More American homes could be powered by the Earth's natural underground heat with a new, nontoxic and potentially recyclable liquid that is expected to use half as much water as other fluids used to tap into otherwise unreachable geothermal hot spots. The fluid might be a boon to a new approach to geothermal power called enhanced geothermal systems.

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Discovery changes how scientists examine rarest elements of periodic table

April 16, 2015 7:34 am | by Kathleen Haughney, Florida State Univ. | News | Comments

A little-known element called californium is making big waves in how scientists look at the periodic table. According to new research by a Florida State Univ. professor, californium is what's known to be a transitional element, meaning it links one part of the Periodic Table of Elements to the next.

Study shows novel pattern of electrical charge movement through DNA

April 15, 2015 8:03 am | by Richard Harth, Biodesign Institute | News | Comments

Electrical charges not only move through wires, they also travel along lengths of DNA, the molecule of life. The property is known as charge transport. In a new study appearing in Nature Chemistry, researchers explore the ways in which electrical charges move along DNA bases affixed to a pair of electrodes.

Clean up your life with chemistry life hacks

April 14, 2015 12:11 pm | by American Chemical Society | Videos | Comments

Ever run out of your go-to cleaning product, and you’ve got a mess that you just can’t leave alone? Have no fear, chemistry is here. Reactions is back with another round of Chemistry Life Hacks series, and it’s all about cleaning.

Chemists create nanoparticles that reflect nature’s patterns

April 10, 2015 7:55 am | by Jocelyn Duffy, Carnegie Mellon Univ. | News | Comments

Our world is full of patterns, from the twist of a DNA molecule to the spiral of the Milky Way. New research from Carnegie Mellon Univ. chemists has revealed that tiny, synthetic gold nanoparticles exhibit some of nature's most intricate patterns. Unveiling the kaleidoscope of these patterns was a Herculean task, and it marks the first time that a nanoparticle of this size has been crystallized and its structure mapped out atom by atom.

Research could usher in next generation of batteries, fuel cells

April 10, 2015 7:30 am | by Jeff Stensland, Univ. of South Carolina | News | Comments

Scientists have made a discovery that could dramatically improve the efficiency of batteries and fuel cells. The research involves improving the transport of oxygen ions, a key component in converting chemical reactions into electricity. The team studied a well-known material, gadolinium doped ceria, which transports oxygen ions and is currently in use as a solid-oxide fuel cell electrolyte.

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Detecting lysosomal pH with fluorescent probes

April 9, 2015 11:51 am | by Allison Mills, Michigan Technological Univ. | News | Comments

Lysosomes are the garbage disposals of animal cells. As the resources are limited in cells, organic materials are broken down and recycled a lot; and that’s what lysosomes do. Detecting problems with lysosomes is the focus of a new set of fluorescent probes developed by researchers at Michigan Technological Univ.

Complex organic molecules discovered in infant star system: hints that prebiotic chemistry is universal

April 8, 2015 2:21 pm | by National Radio Astronomy Observatory | News | Comments

For the first time, astronomers have detected the presence of complex organic molecules, the building blocks of life, in a protoplanetary disk surrounding a young star, suggesting once again that the conditions that spawned our Earth and Sun are not unique in the universe.

How unwanted CDs and DVDs could help cut carbon emissions

April 8, 2015 1:45 pm | by ACS | News | Comments

Now that most consumers download and stream their movies and music, more and more CDs and DVDs will end up in landfills or be recycled. But soon these discarded discs could take on a different role: curbing the release of greenhouse gases. In ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, scientists report a way to turn the discs into a material that can capture carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas, and other compounds

Can you make your own Game of Thrones sword using chemistry?

April 8, 2015 8:41 am | by American Chemical Society | Videos | Comments

The fantasy epic Game of Thrones is back April 12, 2015, and it is sure to be chock full of intrigue, indiscretions and, of course, swords. The most sought-after blades in Westeros are made from Valyrian steel, forged using ancient magic. But could you make your own Valyrian steel sword using real-life chemistry?

Spotting a molecular warhead for disease in the human gut

April 7, 2015 12:20 pm | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Univ. scientists are using new chemical tools to identify and understand molecules in the human gut that alter DNA and regulate inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancers. In a recent article, researchers describe the chemical structures of 32 such molecules from the bacterial colibactin pathway, found in select strains of E. coli in the gut.

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Researchers discover N-type polymer for fast organic battery

April 6, 2015 11:46 am | by Jeannie Kever, Univ. of Houston | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Houston have reported developing an efficient conductive electron-transporting polymer, a long-missing puzzle piece that will allow ultrafast battery applications. The discovery relies upon a "conjugated redox polymer" design with a naphthalene-bithiophene polymer, which has traditionally been used for applications including transistors and solar cells.

Researchers create first metal-free catalyst for rechargeable zinc-air batteries

April 6, 2015 11:36 am | by Kevin Mayhood, Case Western Reserve Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have made what they believe is the first metal-free bifunctional electrocatalyst that performs as well or better than most metal and metal-oxide electrodes in zinc-air batteries. Zinc-air batteries are expected to be safer, lighter, cheaper and more powerful and durable than lithium-ion batteries common in mobile phones and laptops and increasingly used in hybrid and electric cars.

Aluminum battery offers safe alternative to conventional batteries

April 6, 2015 11:23 am | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Stanford Univ. scientists have invented the first high-performance aluminum battery that's fast-charging, long-lasting and inexpensive. Researchers say the new technology offers a safe alternative to many commercial batteries in wide use today.

Ultrasonic hammer sets off tiny explosions

April 6, 2015 7:42 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Giving new meaning to the term “sonic boom,” Univ. of Illinois chemists have used sound to trigger microscopic explosions. Using an “ultrasonic hammer,” the researchers triggered tiny but intensely hot explosions in volatile materials, giving insight into how explosives work and how to control them.

Water makes wires even more nano

April 6, 2015 7:35 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Water is the key component in a Rice Univ. process to reliably create patterns of metallic and semiconducting wires less than 10 nm wide. The technique by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour builds upon its discovery that the meniscus, the curvy surface of water at its edge, can be an effective mask to make nanowires.

Evolutionary relic

April 2, 2015 3:56 pm | by Bonnie Prescott, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Pseudogenes, a subclass of long noncoding RNA  that developed from the human genome’s 20,000 protein-coding genes but has lost the ability to produce proteins, have long been considered nothing more than genomic junk.

Biofuel crops replace grasslands nationwide

April 2, 2015 11:27 am | by Kelly April Tyrrell, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

Clearing grasslands to make way for biofuels may seem counterproductive, but Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison researchers show in a study that crops, including the corn and soy commonly used for biofuels, expanded onto 7 million acres of new land in the U.S. over a recent four-year period, replacing millions of acres of grasslands.

Scientists develop perfume activated by sweat

April 2, 2015 7:46 am | by Queen’s Univ. Belfast | News | Comments

The first-ever perfume delivery system to ensure the more a person sweats, the better they will smell, has been developed by scientists at Queen’s Univ. Belfast. The researchers have developed a unique new perfume delivery system which releases more of its aroma when it comes into contact with moisture, meaning a person smells nicer when their sweat levels increase.

New insecticide class offers safer, more targeted mosquito control

April 2, 2015 7:37 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers have identified a new class of chemical insecticides that could provide a safer, more selective means of controlling mosquitoes that transmit key infectious diseases such as dengue, yellow fever and elephantiasis. Known as dopamine receptor antagonists, the chemicals beat out the neurotransmitter dopamine to lock into protein receptors that span the mosquito cell membrane.

Scientists reveal mechanism of natural product with powerful antimicrobial action

March 31, 2015 8:04 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have uncovered the unique mechanism of a powerful natural product with wide-ranging antifungal, antibacterial antimalaria and anticancer effects. The new study sheds light on the natural small molecule known as borrelidin.

Chemists make new silicon-based nanomaterials

March 27, 2015 8:01 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Chemists from Brown Univ. have found a way to make new 2-D, graphene-like semiconducting nanomaterials using an old standby of the semiconductor world: silicon. In a paper published in Nanoletters, the researchers describe methods for making nanoribbons and nanoplates from a compound called silicon telluride. The materials are pure, p-type semiconductors that could be used in a variety of electronic and optical devices.

Algae from clogged waterways could serve as biofuels, fertilizer

March 25, 2015 11:31 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Water-borne algal blooms from farm fertilizer runoff can destroy aquatic life and clog rivers and lakes, but scientists will report today that they are working on a way to clean up these environmental scourges and turn them into useful products. The algae could serve as a feedstock for biofuels, and the feedstock leftovers could be recycled back into farm soil nutrients.

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