A new process developed at the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago suggests that base metals may be used as catalysts in the manufacture of countless products made from petroleum-based raw materials. The metals, copper and iron, could potentially replace a rare and expensive metal catalyst currently required for the chemical process called borylation.
Instead of having to use tons of crushing force and volcanic heat to forge diamonds, researchers at Case Western Reserve Univ. have developed a way to cheaply make nanodiamonds on a laboratory bench at atmospheric pressure and near room temperature. The nanodiamonds are formed directly from a gas and require no surface to grow on.
A research team including a Penn State chemical engineer was recently awarded a $3.9 million National Science Foundation grant to understand how blue-green algae convert nitrogen into oxygen. The objective is to learn how to "transplant" the nitrogen fixing capability of one species to another.
Materials in lithium ion battery electrodes expand and contract during charge and discharge. These volume changes drive particle fracture, which shortens battery lifetime. A group of scientists has quantified this effect for the first time using high-resolution 3D movies recorded using x-ray tomography at the Swiss Light Source.
Vanadium dioxide is one of the few known materials that acts like an insulator at low temperatures but like a metal at warmer temperatures starting around 67 C. This temperature-driven metal-insulator transition, the origin of which is still intensely debated, could be induced by the application of an external electric field. Beamline studies at the Advanced Light Source has shed some light on this potential avenue for faster electronics.
A team of scientists in Europe have developed a new method of rapidly identifying different molecular species under a microscope. Their technique of coherent Raman spectro-imaging with two laser frequency combs takes a big step toward the holy grail of real-time label-free biomolecular imaging.
Spraying a plant hormone on broccoli—already one of the planet’s most nutritious foods—boosts its cancer-fighting potential, and researchers say they have new insights on how that works. They published their findings, which could help scientists build an even better, more healthful broccoli.
Cell biologists and chemists in Switzerland have revealed how viral DNA moves in human cells. They have developed a new method to generate virus particles containing labeled viral DNA genomes, which has allowed them to visualize, for the first time, single viral genomes in the cytoplasm and the nucleus.
Earth’s most eminent emissary to Mars has just proven that those rare Martian visitors that sometimes drop in on Earth really are from the Red Planet. A key new measurement of Mars’ atmosphere by NASA’s Curiosity rover provides the most definitive evidence yet of the origins of Mars meteorites while at the same time providing a way to rule out Martian origins of other meteorites.
Scientists at Rice Univ. are enhancing the natural antioxidant properties of an element found in a car’s catalytic converter to make it useful for medical applications. The team created small, uniform spheres of cerium oxide and gave them a thin coating of fatty oleic acid to make them biocompatible.
Rubber can be extracted from the juice of the dandelion, but transitioning this technology to the industrial setting has been a challenge. The Fraunhofer Institute in Germany has joined with Continental tire company to build the first-ever pilot system to extract vast quantities of dandelion rubber for making tires
Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison researchers working at the intersection of basic and applied science focus on key factors like cost, environmental impacts and sometimes, color. Take, for example, asst. chemistry prof. Trisha Andrew: Researchers in her laboratory are developing next-generation solar cells using chromophores or, in lay terms, dyes.
Chemists at Boston College have achieved a series of breakthroughs in their efforts to develop an economical means of harnessing artificial photosynthesis by narrowing the voltage gap between the two crucial processes of oxidation and reduction, according to their latest research, published in Angewandte Chemie.
A discovery at Rice Univ. aims to make vehicles that run on compressed natural gas more practical. It might also prolong the shelf life of bottled beer and soda. The Rice laboratory of chemist James Tour has enhanced a polymer material to make it far more impermeable to pressurized gas and far lighter than the metal in tanks now used to contain the gas.
A research team, led by the Univ. of California, Santa Cruz, developed a solar-microbial device that combines a microbial fuel cell (MFC) and a photoelectrochemical cell (PEC). In the MFC component, bacteria degrade organic matter in the wastewater, generating electricity. The biologically generated electricity is delivered to the PEC component to assist the solar-powered splitting of water that generates hydrogen and oxygen.
Researchers have come one step closer to understanding unstable atomic nuclei. A team of researchers from RIKEN, the Univ. of Tokyo and other institutions in Japan and Italy has provided evidence for a new nuclear magic number in the unstable, radioactive calcium isotope 54Ca. In a study published in Nature, they show that 54Ca is the first known nucleus with 34 neutrons (N) where N = 34 is a magic number.
New York Univ. chemists have discovered crystal growth complexities, which at first glance appeared to confound 50 years of theory and deepened the mystery of how organic crystals form. But, appearances can be deceiving. The researchers focused on L-cystine crystals, the chief component of a particularly nefarious kind of kidney stone.
Scientists report in Nature Communications that they have engineered yeast to consume acetic acid, a previously unwanted byproduct of the process of converting plant leaves, stems and other tissues into biofuels. The innovation increases ethanol yield from lignocellulosic sources by about 10%.
Three U.S.-based scientists won the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing powerful computer models that others can use to understand complex chemical interactions and create new drugs. Research in the 1970s by Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel has helped scientists develop programs that unveil chemical processes such as the purification of exhaust fume or photosynthesis, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.
At first glance, Mars’ clouds might be mistaken for those on Earth. Given what scientists know about the Red Planet’s atmosphere, these clouds likely consist of either carbon dioxide or water-based ice crystals. But it’s difficult to know the precise conditions that give rise to such clouds without sampling directly from a Martian cloud. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have now done the next-best thing.
Rice Univ. scientists took a lesson from craftsmen of old to assemble microscopic compounds that warn of the presence of dangerous fumes from solvents. The researchers combined a common mineral, zeolite, with a metallic compound based on rhenium to make an “artificial nose” that can sniff out solvent gases.
With high-tech optical tools and sophisticated mathematics, Rice Univ. researchers have found a way to pinpoint the location of specific sequences along single strands of DNA, a technique that could someday help diagnose genetic diseases. Proof-of-concept experiments in the Rice laboratory of chemist Christy Landes identified DNA sequences as short as 50 nucleotides at room temperature.
Researchers report that they have created a man-made catalyst that is an “enzyme mimic.” Unlike most enzymes, which act on a single target, the new catalyst can alter the chemical profiles of numerous types of small molecules. The catalyst—and others like it—will greatly speed the process of drug discovery, the researchers say.
A team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers has pioneered the use of a long-standing technology for a new application—analyzing the chemical composition of uranium samples. In a paper published in Applied Spectroscopy, LLNL scientists describe the first reported use of near-infrared spectrometry to study the chemical properties of uranium ore concentrates, also called yellowcake.
The Cassini spacecraft has found small amounts of propylene, a chemical used to make storage containers and other products, in the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon Titan. The spacecraft’s composite infrared spectrometer located the chemical in Titan’s stratosphere.