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.
Univ. of California, Los Angeles chemical engineering researchers have created a new synthetic metabolic pathway for breaking down glucose that could lead to a 50% increase in the production of biofuels. The new pathway is intended to replace the natural metabolic pathway known as glycolysis, a series of chemical reactions that nearly all organisms use to convert sugars into the molecular precursors that cells need.
A microfluidic chip developed at the Univ. of Michigan is among the best at capturing elusive circulating tumor cells from blood—and it can support the cells' growth for further analysis. The device, believed to be the first to pair these functions, uses the advanced electronics material graphene oxide. In clinics, such a device could one day help doctors diagnose cancers.
The creation of the next generation of batteries depends on finding materials that provide greater storage capacity. One variety, known as lithium-air (Li-air) batteries, are particularly appealing to researchers because they have a significantly higher theoretical capacity than conventional lithium-ion batteries.
Engineering researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new drape made from graphene—the thinnest material known to science—which can enhance the water-resistant properties of materials with rough surfaces.
At the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, experts have been conducting research of “organs” on microchips. Unlike the few other laboratories conducting these types of studies, the Army is specifically looking at potential scenarios that will affect warfighters, especially chemical agent exposure.
By coating compact disks in photocatalytic compounds and spinning them to clean water, scientists in Taiwan have found a potential new use for old music CDs. The disks, equipped with tiny zinc oxide nanorods, are able to break down more than 95% of the contaminants in methyl orange dye, a benchmark organic compound for testing photocatalytic reactions.
A researcher in the Netherlands has managed to bridge the “gap” between two ultrathin gold nanowires, each just a few atoms high, with a single molecule. This bridge could serve to detect new physical effects or may act as a switch.
NASA's Curiosity rover hasn't discovered any signs of methane in the atmosphere of Mars, a finding that does not bode well for the possibility that microbes capable of producing the gas could be living below the planet's surface, scientists said Thursday. On Earth, most of the gas is a byproduct of life, spewed when animals digest or plants decay.
Of the five senses, smell is the least understood, but an Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher is sniffing out answers that could help establish a systematic understanding of how people categorize odors. The paper could ultimately result in more complete explanations of how the brain’s odor processing mechanism represents and categorizes odors, and help in the effort to predict mental impressions of odors from chemicals.
At some point in elementary school you were shown that opposite charges attract and like charges repel. This is a universal scientific truth—except when it isn’t. A research team led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory chemist Richard Saykally and theorist David Prendergast, working at the Advanced Light Source, has shown that, when hydrated in water, positively charged ions (cations) can actually pair up with one another.
Carbon monoxide is a poisoning impurity in hydrogen derived from natural gas. If a catalyst could be developed that can handle this impure fuel, it could be a substantially less expensive alternative to pure hydrogen produced from water. Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have used a simple, “green” process to create a new core-shell catalyst that tolerates carbon monoxide in fuel cells.
Researchers have found a new family of materials that provides the best-ever performance in a reaction called oxygen evolution, a key requirement for energy storage and delivery systems. The materials, called double perovskites, are a variant of a mineral that exists in abundance in the Earth’s crust. Their remarkable ability to promote oxygen evolution in a water-splitting reaction is detailed in a paper appearing in Nature Communications.