Wool skirts and silk ties may avoid those pricey trips to the dry-cleaner in the future and clean themselves, researchers in Australia and China suggest. They are reporting development of a nanoparticle coating that could lead to “self-cleaning” wool and silk fabrics.
Wool and silk, which are composed of natural proteins called keratins, are among the most prized and widely used fabrics in the clothing industry. However, they are difficult fabrics to keep clean and are easily damaged by conventional cleaning agents. A better way to fight stains in these and other protein-based fabrics is needed, scientists say.
In a recent laboratory study, wool treated with a new nanoparticle coating (bottom row) removed red wine stains more effectively than plain wool (top row) and wool coated with another stain-fighting chemical (middle row), scientists say. Credit: Courtesy of the American Chemical Society
The two atoms of an oxygen molecule severed by a metal catalyst usually behave identically, but new research reveals that on a particular catalyst, one oxygen atom plants itself while the other moves away, probably with energy partially stolen from the stationary one.
Scientists from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found this unanticipated behavior while studying how oxygen interacts with reduced titanium oxide surfaces. The chemists are trying to understand how molecular oxygen -- the stuff we breathe -- interacts with metals and metal oxides, which are used as catalysts in a variety of environmental and energy applications.
Ethylene, the world's most commonly produced organic compound, is used many types of industries. Farmers and horticulturalists use it as a plant hormone to promote flowering and ripening, especially in bananas while doctors and surgeons have long used ethylene as an anesthetic and ethylene-based polymers are found in everything from freezer bags to fiberglass.
Its current production methods result in a number of greenhouse gases. A new environmentally friendly technology created by scientists at Argonne National Laboratory may revolutionize creation of this compound by use of a high-temperature membrane that can produce ethylene from an ethane stream by removing pure hydrogen. Says senior ceramist Balu Balachandran, “This is a clean, energy-efficient way of producing a chemical that before required methods that were expensive and wasteful and also emitted a great deal of pollution.”
Drugs derived from cinchona bark, known as cinchona alkaloids, have been used in healing from ancient times. The most prominent representative of this group is quinine, a bitter substance contained in beverages such as tonic water and used in modern medicine to combat malaria.
As early as 1945, Robert Burns Woodward and William von Eggers Doering (Harvard University) described how to synthesize quinine in the laboratory. The last step of this “formal” total synthesis, a three-step reaction procedure previously described by Paul Rabe and Karl Kindler in 1918, has continued to be the subject of much controversy to this day.
Had they done it or not? That has been the question for decades. Woodward and Doering published the synthesis of d-quinotoxine in 1944. Based on the conversion of d-quinotoxine into quinine described by Rabe and Kindler in 1918, they claimed to have derived the total synthesis of quinine, though they had not actually completed this last step themselves before publishing. Their “formal” total synthesis was strongly challenged and was even dismissed as a “myth” by Gilbert Stork (Columbia University) in 2001.
Water has some amazing properties. It is the only natural substance found in all three states — solid, liquid and gas — within the range of natural Earth temperatures. Its solid form is less dense than its liquid form, which is why ice floats. It can absorb a great deal of heat without getting hot, has very high surface tension (helping it move through roots and capillaries — vital to maintaining life on Earth) and is virtually incompressible.
A less commonly known distinction of water, but one of great interest to physical chemists, is its odd behavior at its transition to the glassy phase. The “glassy state” is a sub-state of matter — glassy water and ice, for example, are chemically identical and have the same state (solid), but have a different structure.
Chemical research has traditionally been organized in either experiment-centric or molecule-centric models.
This makes sense from the chemist's standpoint.
When we think about doing chemistry, we conceptualize experiments as the fundamental unit of progress. This is reflected in the laboratory notebook, where each page is an experiment, with an objective, a procedure, the results, their analysis and a final conclusion optimally directly answering the stated objective.
When we think about searching for chemistry, we generally imagine molecules and transformations.
Researchers in New Jersey report development of a new type of non-stick material whose ability to shed liquids like water from a duck’s back can be turned on or off simply by flipping an electrical switch.
The material, called “nanonails,” offers a wide-range of potential applications including contamination-resistant and self-cleaning surfaces, reduced-drag ships, and advanced electrical batteries, they say. Their study is scheduled for the Jan. 1 issue of Langmuir.
For years, researchers sought to develop surfaces that repel virtually any liquid. They’ve created non-stick surfaces that repel water and certain other liquids, but have had little success with repelling common organic liquids such as oils, solvents and detergents.
What are the defining discoveries and great developments that are shaping the way we use materials and technologies today? Materials Today magazine has compiled a list of the top ten most significant advances in materials science over the last 50 years.
The top ten includes advances that have altered all our daily lives. Some have completely changed the research arena, and others have opened up new possibilities and capabilities. They are:
1. The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors
2. Scanning probe microscopes
3. Giant magnetoresistive effect
4. Semiconductor lasers and light-emitting diodes
5. National Nanotechnology Initiative
6. Carbon fiber reinforced plastics
7. Materials for Li ion batteries
8. Carbon nanotubes
9. Soft lithography
This term, the students in my organic chemistry class
were presented with an opportunity to do an extra credit assignment using Second Life
to represent concepts they learned in the course.
When I was an undergraduate, finding molecules in articles was mainly done using the Chemical Abstracts books. A convenient way to find a specific molecule would be to look up the molecular formula and find the corresponding IUPAC name
. Theoretically, one could figure out the IUPAC name from scratch but this can be very tricky for complex molecules and prone to error.
Scientists in France are reporting for the first time that sculptors from the fantastically wealthy ancient Empire of Mali — once the source of almost half the world’s gold — used blood to form the beautiful patina, or coating, on their works of art.
In a study published in Analytical Chemistry, Pascale Richardin and colleagues describe development of a new, noninvasive test that accurately identifies traces of blood apparently left on ancient African artifacts used in ceremonies involving animal sacrifices.
Archaeologists often had reported or suspected the presence of blood on many African artifacts, the study points out. However, accurately identifying the presence of blood was difficult because of the tiny amounts of blood remaining over the ages.