ChemWeb Newsletter

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An accidental greenhouse gas conversion caught the eye of The Alchemist this week as well as a temporary tattoo device that can detect alcohol in perspiration. Nitrates are in the news again we learn of a possible dietary link with migraines through the oral microbiome. There's an organic solar boost too and a way to bring together repulsive charges. Finally, a grant to improve nano safety.




US researchers have serendipitously discovered a nanostructured electrocatalyst made from carbon and copper that can convert aqueous carbon dioxide to ethanol with a staggering yield of more than 60%. The process might ultimately be scaled up to scrub the greenhouse gas from fossil fuel power station emissions or other carbon dioxide sources. The process would generate a cleaner form of fuel or if driven by solar, wind or other sustainable electricity source could be used as chemical storage for power.





A wearable device, resembling a tattoo applied to the skin can measure the amount of ethanol excreted in sweat and send the data to a smart phone. The device could be used by drinkers to monitor their intake or in a regulatory or rehabilitation setting. The device is being developed by a team of scientists and engineers from the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, USA led by Seila Selimovic.





A new study suggests that migraine sufferers may be prone to symptoms because they have nitrate-reducing bacteria in their mouths and eat foods or take medicines that contain nitrates. Processed meats (including bacon, ham, and pork sausages) often have added nitrate as a preservative to prevent botulism, while some green leafy vegetables and some medications also contain nitrates. Chocolate and wine are also thought to be triggers for migraine. Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, USA, suggest that a person's oral microbiome might be the key to understanding why some people suffer this often-debilitating condition and others eating the same foods do not.





Organic solar cells with 11.6% efficiency have been developed by researchers at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, UNIST, in South Korea. HyeSung Park and Chang Duck Yang and their colleagues have given the organic photovoltaic materials a boost by applying a macromolecular additive, a well-known n-type semiconducting conjugated polymer, P(NDI2OD-T2), poly{[N,N′-bis(2-octyldodecyl)-naphthalene-1,4,5,8-bis (dicarboximide)-2,6-diyl]-alt-5,5′-(2,2′-bithiophene)}.





The first definitive evidence for a new type of molecular structure with a bond between two negatively charged moieties has been obtained by researchers in the USA. Amar Flood of Indiana University, in Bloomington, and colleagues used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry to investigate the encapsulation of two bisulfate ions in a fullerene cage. The findings could have implications for understanding the behavior of ions enclosed by macromolecules, perhaps even proteins and other biochemicals.





Chemists at the University of Iowa will gain access to the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) through a US National Science Foundation grant to help them research the effects of nanomaterials in the search for safer nano substances. The $72,503 grant gives them the funds to use the supercomputer network, which they can access from their desktop computers and process simulation data.