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Quantum dots have made quantum leaps

January 9, 2015 8:57 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Outside his career as a noted nanochemist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) director Paul Alivisatos is an avid photographer. To show off his photos, his preferred device is a Kindle Fire HDX tablet because “the color display is a whole lot better than other tablets,” he says.

Atomic placement of elements counts for strong concrete

January 9, 2015 8:20 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Even when building big, every atom matters, according to new research on particle-based materials at Rice Univ. Rice researchers have published a study showing what happens at the nanoscale when “structurally complex” materials like concrete rub against each other. The scratches they leave behind can say a lot about their characteristics.

Scientists find unsuspected spectroscopy rules for rattling hydrogen

January 8, 2015 11:02 am | by New York Univ. | News | Comments

It has been taken for granted for over 50 years that the type of spectroscopy widely used to study hydrogen inside materials is not subject to any selection rules. In the joint theoretical and experimental study that appeared recently in Physical Review Letters, an international team of researchers showed that this near universally held view is incorrect for at least one important class of hydrogen-entrapping compounds.

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A potential long-lasting treatment for sensitive teeth

January 8, 2015 9:22 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Rather than soothe and comfort, a hot cup of tea or cocoa can cause people with sensitive teeth a jolt of pain. But scientists are now developing a new biomaterial that can potentially rebuild worn enamel and reduce tooth sensitivity for an extended period. They describe the material, which they tested on dogs, in ACS Nano.

Honeybee hive sealant promotes hair growth in mice

January 7, 2015 2:58 pm | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Hair loss can be devastating for the millions of men and women who experience it. Now scientists are reporting that a substance from honeybee hives might contain clues for developing a potential new therapy. They found that the material, called propolis, encouraged hair growth in mice. The study appears in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The best offense against bacteria is a good defense

January 7, 2015 11:13 am | by Emily Caldwell, Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

A small protein active in the human immune response can disable bacterial toxins by exploiting a property that makes the toxins effective, but also turns out to be a weakness. These toxins, which are released by bacteria, have malleable surfaces that allow them to move through porous areas of host cells to pave the way for bacteria to stay alive. But that same malleability makes the toxins vulnerable to these immune system proteins.

Technology quickly traces source of tainted food

January 7, 2015 10:51 am | by Kenneth Ma, LLNL | News | Comments

Foodborne illnesses kill roughly 3,000 Americans each year and about one in six are sickened, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet most contaminated foods are never traced back to their source. That’s because existing methods to track tainted food following its supply chain from table to farm are highly inefficient, jeopardizing the health of millions and costing the food industry billions.

Body clock protects metabolic health

January 6, 2015 3:30 pm | by Tom Vasich, Univ. of California, Irvine | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Irvine scientists studying the role of circadian rhythms in skin stem cells found that this clock plays a key role in coordinating daily metabolic cycles and cell division. Their research, which appears in Cell Reports, shows, for the first time, how the body’s intrinsic day-night cycles protect and nurture stem cell differentiation.

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Researchers create successful predictions of combustion reaction rates

January 6, 2015 8:22 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated, for the first time, a method to successfully predict pressure-dependent chemical reaction rates, an important breakthrough in combustion and atmospheric chemistry that is expected to benefit auto and engine manufacturers, oil and gas utilities and other industries that employ combustion models.

Electromagnetic waves linked to particle fallout in Earth’s atmosphere

January 5, 2015 3:31 pm | by Dartmouth College | News | Comments

In a new study that sheds light on space weather's impact on Earth, Dartmouth researchers and their colleagues show, for the first time, that plasma waves buffeting the planet's radiation belts are responsible for scattering charged particles into the atmosphere. The study is the most detailed analysis so far of the link between these waves and the fallout of electrons from the planet's radiation belts.

Freshman-level chemistry solves the solubility mystery of graphene oxide films

January 5, 2015 3:21 pm | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

A Northwestern Univ.-led team recently found the answer to a mysterious question that has puzzled the materials science community for years—and it came in the form of some surprisingly basic chemistry. Like many scientists, Jiaxing Huang didn't understand why graphene oxide films were highly stable in water.

New concept of fuel cell for efficiency, environment

January 5, 2015 11:35 am | by Institute for Basic Science | News | Comments

The Center for Nanoparticle Research at the Institute for Basic Science has succeeded in proposing a new method to enhance fuel cell efficiency with the simultaneous removal of toxic heavy metal ions. The direct methanol fuel cell (DFMC) has been a promising energy conversion device for electrical vehicles and portable devices. However, the inevitable carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is one of the main factors reducing its performance.

Researchers synthesize lead sulfide nanocrystals of uniform size

January 5, 2015 10:26 am | by Massachusetts Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Lead sulfide nanocrystals suitable for solar cells have a nearly one-to-one ratio of lead to sulfur atoms, but Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers discovered that to make uniformly sized quantum dots, a higher ratio of lead to sulfur precursors—24 to 1—is better.

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Plant genetic advance could lead to more efficient biofuel conversion

January 5, 2015 7:14 am | by Janet Lathrop, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst | News | Comments

Plant geneticists from the Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst and the Univ. of California, Davis have sorted out the gene regulatory networks that control cell wall thickening by the synthesis of the three polymers, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. The plant geneticists say that the most rigid of the polymers, lignin, represents “a major impediment” to extracting sugars from plant biomass that can be used to make biofuels.

Speeding cyanobacteria growth “brightens” biofuel’s future

January 2, 2015 9:27 am | by Mary Beckman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Rapidly growing bacteria that live in the ocean and can manufacture their own food hold promise as host organisms for producing chemicals, biofuels and medicine. Researchers are closely studying one of these photosynthetic species of fast-growing cyanobacteria using advanced tools developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to determine the optimum environment that contributes to record growth and productivity.

Tailor-made cancer treatments? New cell culture technique paves the way

December 19, 2014 8:15 am | News | Comments

In a development that could lead to a deeper understanding of cancer and better early-stage treatment of the disease, University of Michigan researchers have devised a reliable way to grow a certain type of cancer cells from patients outside the body for study.

Rice study fuels hope for natural gas cars

December 19, 2014 8:11 am | News | Comments

Cars that run on natural gas are touted as efficient and environmentally friendly, but getting enough gas onboard to make them practical is a hurdle. A new study led by researchers at Rice University promises to help.                    

Computational clues into the structure of a promising energy conversion catalyst

December 19, 2014 8:08 am | News | Comments

Hydrogen fuel is a promising source of clean energy that can be produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. The reaction is difficult but achievable with the help of a catalyst. However, current catalysts lack the efficiency required for water splitting to be commercially competitive. Recently, however, scientists have identified one such catalyst, iron-doped nickel oxide.

Landmark discovery in gold nanorod instability

December 18, 2014 3:14 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at Swinburne University of Technology have discovered an instability in gold nanoparticles that is critical for their application in future technology. Gold nanorods are important building blocks for future applications in solar cells, cancer therapy and optical circuitry.

New conversion process turns biomass “waste” into lucrative chemical products

December 17, 2014 2:58 pm | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | Videos | Comments

A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel. A team of researchers from Purdue Univ.'s Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels, or C3Bio, has developed a process that uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin into valuable chemical commodities.

Mistletoe could fight obesity-related liver disease

December 17, 2014 1:27 pm | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Mistletoe hanging in doorways announces that the holidays are just around the corner. For some people, however, the symbolic plant might one day represent more than a kiss at Christmas time: It may mean better liver health. Researchers have found that a compound produced by a particular variety of the plant can help fight obesity-related liver disease in mice.

New tracers can identify coal ash contamination in water

December 16, 2014 2:20 pm | by Tim Lucas, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

Duke Univ. scientists have developed new forensic tracers to identify coal ash contamination in water and distinguish it from contamination coming from other sources. Previous methods to identify coal ash contaminants in the environment were based solely on the contaminants’ chemical variations. The newly developed tracers provide additional forensic fingerprints that give regulators a more accurate and systematic tool.

Turning hydrogen into “graphene”

December 16, 2014 2:13 pm | by Carnegie Institute | News | Comments

New work from Carnegie Institute's Ivan Naumov and Russell Hemley delves into the chemistry underlying some surprising recent observations about hydrogen, and reveals remarkable parallels between hydrogen and graphene under extreme pressures.

Carbon-trapping “sponges” can cut greenhouse gases

December 16, 2014 8:56 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

In the fight against global warming, carbon capture is gaining momentum, but standard methods are plagued by toxicity, corrosiveness and inefficiency. Using a bag of chemistry tricks, Cornell Univ. materials scientists have invented low-toxicity, highly effective carbon-trapping “sponges” that could lead to increased use of the technology.

Fish use chemical camouflage from diet to hide from predators

December 15, 2014 8:43 am | by Brett Israel, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

A species of small fish uses a homemade coral-scented cologne to hide from predators, a new study has shown, providing the first evidence of chemical camouflage from diet in fish. Filefish evade predators by feeding on their home corals and emitting an odor that makes them invisible to the noses of predators, the study found.

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