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The Alchemist Newsletter: July 11, 2014

by chemweb last modified 07-11-14 07:21 AM
The Alchemist - July 11, 2014
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July 11, 2014


publishers' select
issue overview
materials: Graphene from plastic, fantastic!
modeling: Chemistry in the movies
physical: Flame theory licked
bio: Fat, like an elephant
nano: Very, very small-scale fluid mechanics
award: Chemical Hall of Fame
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Graphene from plastic, modeling chemistry, licking a flame theory, and elephant fat makes a trunk call - all fall under the Alchemist's watchful eye this week. There is also a new spin on microwave pumping for micromachines and induction into the hall of fame for an Omani scientist-entrepeneur.

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Graphene from plastic, fantastic!

An organic polymer has been converted into single-layer carbon materials similar to graphene by Han-Ik Joh of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Seok-In Na of Chonbuk National University and Byoung Gak Kim at Korea University of Science and Technology. The products of the one-step synthesis were then used directly as the transparent electrodes for an organic photovoltaic solar cell without the need for indium tin oxide (ITO) components. The approach produces graphene-like layers without the complexity and inconvenience of chemical vapor deposition (CVD) approaches.

arrowMaking Dreams Come True : Making Graphene from Plastic?

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Chemistry in the movies

Short pulse lasers can capture the action in bioluminescent proteins on the femtosecond timescale, according to research at Oregon State University in Corvallis, USA and the University of Alberta, Canada. “With this technology we’re going to be able to slow down the observation of living processes and understand the exact sequences of biochemical reactions,” explains OSU's Chong Fang. "We believe this is the first time ever that you can really see chemistry in action inside a biosensor," he adds. "This is a much more powerful tool to study, understand and tune biological processes."

arrow"Molecular movie" technology may enable big gains in bioimaging, health research

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Flame theory licked

US researchers have uncovered the first step in the process that transforms gas-phase molecules into solid particles like soot and other carbon-based compounds during combustion. The findings by collaborators at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the University of Hawaii could help chemists develop more efficient, less-polluting fuels as well as novel materials. The work may also have implications for astrochemistry helping scientists to translate observations of gaseous stellar outpourings and how they form carbon-based matter in space. For more than 30 years, scientists have developed computational models of combustion to explain how gas molecules form soot, but now Musahid Ahmed and colleagues have data to confirm one of the long-standing combustion theories involving hydrogen abstraction-acetylene addition, or HACA.

arrowUp in Flames: Evidence Confirms Combustion Theory

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Fat, like an elephant

UK researchers have weighed in on the secrets of the biochemistry of the body fat of the African elephant, Loxodonta Africana. They have carried out the first molecular characterization of the elephant's adipose tissue, and the new information will form the basis of future studies aimed at securing the health and future survival of captive elephants. Since the discovery of the satiety hormone leptin, which is synthesized by fat cells, adipose tissue has been recognized as playing a key role in reproduction, energy sensing and regulation as well as the inflammatory response. It is linked to the onset of puberty and reproductive function. “The information we gained can help us to know how to better provide for elephants’ dietary needs, and what possible impact this may have on their reproductive success," explains Lisa Yon. "These same methods can be applied to further our understanding on a range of domestic or non-domestic species."

arrowWeighing up the secrets of African elephant body fat

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Very, very small-scale fluid mechanics

Research in Australia has used computer modeling to predict where highly confined fluids will move, and then used this information to work out how to "pump" the fluid without the need for a mechanical pump or the use of electrodes. The simple technique, developed by a team led by Billy Todd of Swinburne University of Technology, can pump fluid confined in these tiny spaces and might be used to desalinate water and to improve lab-on-a-chip devices. Conventional fluid dynamics is perfectly adequate for modeling the flow of air over an aircraft or water swirling around a motorboat propeller. But, on the nanoscale, the fundamental assumptions made in fluid mechanics break down. The computer models allowed the team to explore fluid behavior on this scale and to demonstrate that a rotating microwave field could be used to "pump" a fluid without mechanical pumps.

arrowAustralian scientists have worked out how to control fluid at the nanoscale

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Chemical Hall of Fame

Chemist Rayan Al Kalbani (33) an Omani scientist-entrepreneur has been honored by the US Embassy in Oman for her induction this year into the Women in Science Hall of Fame of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs of the US Department of State. Rayan graduated from the Sultan Qaboos University in 2003 with a Bachelor's in chemistry and later attended graduate school in Germany where she received her Master's. As a hopeful, she faced a tough competition from female scientists nominated by US embassies across the region. When Al Kalbani was first on the job market, six or eight years ago, there were not so many opportunities or exciting jobs for science graduates. "I decided to create a job for myself," she says. She is co-founder and executive director of Mazoon Environmental and Technological Services, LLC (METS). The company offers services in environmental biotechnology, chemical analysis, environmental monitoring and pollution monitoring.

arrowOmani scientist-entrepreneur, Rayan’s scientific spirit opens doors to Hall of Fame

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