Craftsmen tile walls or floors by hand; but how can you get an ordered monolayer onto a substrate when the "tiles" are microscopically small instead of big and easy to handle? Previously, self-assembly processes have been the method of choice for this scale. Korean researchers have now come to the realization that even such tiny components can be arranged in a "do-it-yourself" method. As they describe in the journal Angewandte Chemie, their manually produced monolayers of microcrystals are qualitatively superior to the self-assembled variety.

Ultrasonic irradiation can break down ionic liquids into more environmentally benign compounds, say scientists.

Ionic liquids are widely regarded as a greener alternative to many commonly used solvents. But, concerns about their toxicity have raised questions about their use in large scale industrial applications, especially those that involve the creation of large amounts of waste.

High frequency sound waves break ionic liquids into non-toxic components. Image: Chemical Science

I realize that the audience for this blog tends to be more broad based than on UsefulChem but once in a while I'll throw in an organic chemistry puzzle to see if there are any organic chemists out there lurking.

Ever since we isolated our Ugi products, we've been trying to cyclize them to the diketopiperazines. As described by Hulme, we are trying to effect an intramolecular transamidation catalyzed by trifluoroacetic acid (TFA).

Last week I had the pleasure of getting interviewed by Janet Babin at the WHYY studio in Philly. Janet is putting together a piece on Open Notebook/Open Source Science for her Marketplace series on NPR.

It was encouraging to see how much interest is being generated on this topic lately, especially in the popular media.

The way people search for and find chemistry information is always in flux.

Right now, Open Access is a hot topic (e.g. Open Source Archivangelism post) and it is interesting to see how those seeking OA sources are connecting with those who choose to share information in that way.

The chemical bond between carbon and fluorine is one of the strongest in nature, and has been both a blessing and a curse in the complex history of fluorocarbons.

The safest possible future for advancing nanotechnology in a sustainable world can be reached by using green chemistry, says James E. Hutchison, a professor of chemistry at the University of Oregon.

“Around the world, there is a growing urgency about nanotechnology and its possible health and environmental impacts,” Hutchison said in his talk Sunday during a workshop at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “There is a concern that these issues will hinder commercialization of this industry.”

Scientists need to take a proactive approach to advancing from the current discovery phase in the creation of nanomaterials into a production phase that is efficient and reduces waste, he said.

There's science in love, you know, and that means there's science in Valentine's Day. Science on Valentine's Day is like cold fusion instead of ethanol. Completely wonderful. And we have it all right here.

Not sure who to date? Garth Sundem answers it in The Valentine's Day Man-O-Meter. Be sure to take it as gospel because he never just makes stuff up.

In work that could dramatically boost the capabilities of "lab on a chip" devices, MIT researchers have created a way to use tiny bubbles to mimic the capabilities of a computer.

The team, based at MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, reports that the bubbles in their microfluidic device can carry on-chip process control information, just like the electronic circuits of a traditional microprocessor, while also performing chemical reactions. The work will appear in the Feb. 9 issue of Science.

MIT researchers have developed a computer chip that runs on microbubbles like these. (Photo courtesy of Manu Prakash)

Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute and the University of Wisconsin have identified two small molecules with promising activity against neurotoxins produced by the Clostridium botulinum, a compound so deadly it has been labeled one of the six highest-risk bioterrorism agents by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Because of the high cost and limited applicability of currently available treatments, the newly identified compounds have the potential to fill the existing therapy gap and to provide protection against a bioterrorism attack using the toxin.

The study is being published the week of February 5 in an online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Our study is an important milestone in the fight against biological terrorism," s