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Carbon dioxide is usually seen as a waste product, the end point of combustion and a problem on a global scale. Now, researcher in China and Japan have found a way to photocatalytically reduce the gas to hydrocarbons. Strontium titanate (STO) and titania have been tested as catalysts for the reduction of CO2 previously. Now, a paper published in Angewandte Chemie outlines how arrays of coaxially aligned STO/titania nanotubes loaded with gold-copper alloy nanoparticles can utilize hydrazine hydrate as a hydrogen source to generate carbon monoxide and thence methane and other hydrocarbons from CO2 under sunlight.

An international team has used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) to identify whether or not coffee beans have been adulterated or contaminated with coffee beans from other regions, this showing how useful an analytical tool it can be in the fight against food fraud in a high-value market. Specifically, the team used proton NMR and a trained expert system to demonstrate that they can differentiate with 100% precision between Arabica coffees from different South American and Central American countries. The high-quality fingerprinting technique avoids the deuterated solvents required of other techniques and the analysis could be readily automated; a first in coffee extract analysis, the team reports in the journal Food Chemistry.

Michael Arnold, Padma Gopalan and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have reported the highest-performing carbon nanotube transistors and suggest that these devices might pave the way not only to flexible electronic gadgets but to that ever-elusive goal, longer battery life. Writing in the journal ACS Nano, the team describes transistors that have an on-off ratio a thousand times better than any previously demonstrated nanotube device and also one hundred times better conductance. "Carbon nanotubes are very strong and very flexible, so they could also be used to make flexible displays and electronics that can stretch and bend, allowing you to integrate electronics into new places like clothing," explains Arnold. "The advance enables new types of electronics that aren't possible with the more brittle materials manufacturers are currently using."

The deceived wisdom that glass is a very slow-moving liquid has persisted for many years. Finally, researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK and the University of Kyoto, Japan, have combined computer simulation and information theory, to show that silica glass is in fact solid. When looked at under the microscope, it appears glass never truly solidifies but keeps flowing, albeit extremely slowly -- so slowly, in fact, that it would take over 10 million years for a window pane to flow perceptibly, despite that deceived wisdom about medieval window panes being thicker at the bottom! "We found that the size of the solid regions of icosahedra would grow until eventually there would be no more liquid regions and so the glass should be a true solid," explains team member Paddy Royall.

Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles have demonstrated how the neuropeptide hormone if administered early in the lives of laboratory mice with autism spectrum disorder, ASD, can behave socially in the same was as non-ASD controls. "The oxytocin system is a key mediator of social behavior in mammals, including humans, for maternal behavior, mother-infant bonding, and social memory," explains Daniel Geschwind. He and colleagues previously developed a mouse model for ASD by knocking out the CNTNAP2 gene (contactin-associated protein-like 2), which plays an important role in the parts of the brain responsible for language and speech. Using this model the team found that the effects of early administration of oxytocin persisted into adolescence and adulthood in the mice. The researchers provide details in the journal Science Translational Medicine, which may one day offer hope of a treatment for this aspect of ASD.

Stephen Buchwald, the Camille Dreyfus Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the 2015 recipient of the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Basic Sciences. The award was given in recognition of his "development of catalytic routes based on palladium and copper to construct carbon-nitrogen and carbon-carbon bonds." Such catalysts have a large impact on the efficient synthesis of pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. The award comes with a €400 000 (more than $450 000) prize.