Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

“Fingerprinting” chemical contaminants using light?? Awesome!!

“What? Why? How?” All kinds of “wh” questions I bombarded at my buddy Marc when he apprised me that he is not going to make it to the long awaited trip. “Somebody tried to poison me” followed by guffaw was the jocular repartee from Marc. After a demented pause from my side, Marc cleared the air of confusion and sickeningly reported that he is suffering from food poisoning. The next morning I drove down to his place to see how he is doing. In one of the friendly banters which we always indulge into, he said” Non sense, this food poisoning man, I wish I could have some device like a phone which can detect the contaminants in food right away, so that I can make store owner eat that food once I find it’s contaminated” followed by burst of  laughter. “Typical Marc” I muttered with smirk. But on my way back home that ‘device’ thought of Marc’s stuck in my head and being a chemist I started screening all the techniques used for the detecting chemicals and asked myself which technique can be exploited to make such a handy device to detect chemical contaminants. The answer came without a waste of second, its Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering(SERS)!

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Working out outside?.. check the humidity level first..!!!

The audience at Arthur Ashe Arena at Flushing Meadows were on their feet with a huge round of applause after the scintillating first set of tennis between Shui Peng and Caroline Wosniacki at the US Open 2014, one of the biggest and most renowned stages for tennis championships. It was 82F(29 oC) out there with grueling conditions for playing. One of the finest tennis contests was being produced until suddenly Shui was struck by cramp in her left leg which is a symptom of  many heat related illnesses. After 10 minutes of  high drama in the presence of nearly 20000 tennis frenzied crowds, Shaui Peng had to retire after several futile attempts to pursue her quest for the US open title. Multiple events of this sort have  prevailed in the history of the sports, also cases where athletes have withdrawn from competitions because of grueling weather forecasts are omnipresent . Being a sport enthusiast, I was forced to wonder, is it just temperature that is a culprit for heat illness or there is something else as a “partner in crime”?!

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Take 1…minute for chemistry in health

Can you explain the importance of chemistry to human health in just 1 minute? If you’re an early-career researcher who is up to the challenge, making a 1 minute video could win you £500.

The chemical sciences will be fundamental in helping us meet the healthcare challenges of the future, and we are committed to ensuring that they contribute to their full potential. As part of our work in this area, we are inviting undergraduate and PhD students, post-docs and those starting out their career in industry to produce an original video that demonstrates the importance of chemistry in health.

We are looking for imaginative ways of showcasing how chemistry helps us address healthcare challenges. Your video should be no longer than 1 minute, and you can use any approach you like.

The winner will receive a £500 cash prize, with a £250 prize for second place and £150 prize for third place up for grabs too.

Stuck for inspiration? Last year’s winning video is a good place to start. John Gleeson’s video was selected based on the effective use of language, dynamic style, creativity and its accurate content.

The closing date for entries to be submitted is 30 January 2015. Our judging panel will select the top five videos. We will then publish the shortlisted videos online and open the judging to the public to determine the winner and the runners up.

For more details on how to enter the competition and who is eligible, join us at the Take 1… page.

Good luck!

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Poster Prize winners at the Excitonic Photovoltaics (XPV) 2014 conference

(From top to bottom) 1st, 2nd & 3rd placed prize winners: Hilary Marsh, Ivan Kassel and Xiaodan Gu receiving their poster prizes from Peter Skabara

(From top to bottom) 1st, 2nd & 3rd placed prize winners: Hilary Marsh, Ivan Kassel and Xiaodan Gu receiving their poster prizes from Peter Skabara

Journal of Materials Chemistry C are delighted to announce the Poster prize winners at the XPV 2014 conference which took place at Telluride Science Research Center, Colorado, USA from the 12th – 15th August this year.

The conference brought together leading researchers in the field of excitonic solar cells with the intention of generating discussions of the global energy outlook and the potential impact of emerging exciton-based PV technologies. Topics discussed during the four-day conference included: materials design, synthesis, and growth; combinatorial materials development (both experimental and computational); photophysics and exciton dynamics; charge generation, transport, and recombination studies; models of device physics; interface and electrode optimization; multijunction device architectures; and novel photophysical mechanisms such as singlet fission.

JMC C poster prize winners from left to right: Ivan Kassel, Xiaodan Gu and Hilary Marsh

Journal of Materials Chemistry C poster prize winners from left to right: Ivan Kassel, Xiaodan Gu and Hilary Marsh

The posters were ranked by the invited speakers with the following 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes being awarded to: Hilary Marsh (University of Colorado, Boulder), Ivan Kassal (University of Queensland) and Xiaodan Gu (Stanford University).

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Recycled fish bones offer five star sun protection

An effective new sunscreen based on iron-doped hydroxyapatite (HAp)-based materials derived from cod fish bones, a by-product of the food industry, has been developed by scientists in Portugal.

Fish bones could be converted into a valuable product © iStock

Fish bones could be converted into a valuable product © iStock

Commercial sunscreens are usually based on materials like TiO2 and ZnO, which absorb UV to reduce its harmful effects on the skin. However, there are concerns regarding the potential toxicity of these materials and their adverse environmental effects when they accumulate in water supplies.

Interested? Read the full article at Chemistry World.

The original article can be read below:

Hydroxyapatite-Fe2O3 based material of natural origin as an active sunscreen filter
Clara Piccirillo, Catarina Rocha, David M Tobaldi, Robert Carlyle Pullar, Joao Antonio Labrincha, Marta Ferreira, Paula Castro and Manuela Pintado  
J. Mater. Chem. B, 2014, Accepted Manuscript
DOI: 10.1039/C4TB00984C

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Superelastic battery

Lithium ion batteries that can be stretched by 600% have been unveiled by scientists in China. In the future, the fibre shaped batteries could be woven into textiles to satisfy the ever-growing requirement for wearable devices.

Huisheng Peng and colleagues at Fudan University made the superelastic batteries by winding two carbon nanotubes–lithium oxide composites yarns, which served as the positive and negative electrodes, onto an elastomer substrate and covering this with a layer of gel electrolyte. The batteries owe their stable electrochemical performance under stretching to the twisted structure of the fibre electrodes and the stretchability of the substrate and gel electrolyte, with the latter also acting as an anchor. When the batteries were stretched, the spring-like structure of the two electrodes was maintained.

The full article can be read at Chemistry World.

A link to the original article can be found below:

Super-stretchy lithium-ion battery based on carbon nanotube fiber
Ye Zhang, Wenyu Bai, Jing Ren, Wei Weng, Huijuan Lin, Zhitao Zhang and Huisheng Peng
J. Mater. Chem. A, 2014, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4TA01878H

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Hot Article: The role of material structure and mechanical properties in cell-matrix interactions

When thinking about movement of the human body it is often thought about it in terms of muscles contracting and relaxing, joints bending and straightening, but I don’t think I have ever thought about movement on a cellular level.

During movement cells in our bodies are subject to mechanical force and as a result they are stretched, sheared and compressed. Many cells passively experience this force and some have even evolved to be particularly sensitive to it and act as sensors – such as the tiny hairs present inside the human ear.

However, some cells are a bit more active and can actually exert their own mechanical force on the environment around them. This interaction is used to achieve various physiological functions like the healing of tissue, fighting infection and growth and differentiation of cells. In order to carry out these functions the cells must be able to sense and understand the mechanical context of the world around them.

This review summarises the evolution of the area of science focused on understanding the mechanobiology of cells and tissues and how different properties of their surrounding environment can be analysed both scientifically and by the cell itself. It also goes further to discuss of different material properties effect the mechanosensing of cells.  Whilst this is still a developing field this review gives a good overview of where our present understanding is at and what limitations there are to overcome in the future.

The role of material structure and mechanical propertie in cell-matrix interactions
Nicholas D. Evans and Eileen Gentleman
J. Mater. Chem. B, 2014, 2, 2345-2356. C3TB21604G

H. L. Parker is a guest web writer for the Journal of Materials Chemistry blog. She currently works at the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence, the University of York.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest research, sign-up to our RSS feed or Table of contents alert.

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Can you treat cancer this way too?! Really?!!

Imagine a scenario where one morning, a close friend of yours calls you and painfully conveys the news of him being diagnosed with cancer and you, instead of sitting horrified and helpless, casually say “Hey don’t worry man, we have PDT!” That sounds fascinating right?! Yes, Photodynamic therapy has shown potential to do that. With the same fascination towards the idea of photodynamic therapy, inventors of PDT pursued research on this therapy and shaped an unconventional out of box method of treating cancer.  The simple mechanism of working of this technique is widely known. Drugs used in this technique are light sensitive. In response to specific light irradiated on the drug molecule, it converts surrounding molecular oxygen into form of oxygen which kills nearby cancer cells. The reasons this therapy called as out of box here are multifold. First, there are many photosensitizers easily available approved by FDA which can easily respond to specific light and produced the effect explained above. Second it makes use of naturally available oxygen molecules surrounding cancer cells. Last and importantly all the conventional drugs/ therapies for the cancer are immunosuppressive meaning they suppress our immune system after treatment unlike PDT, which is immunostimulative which stimulates immune system of the patient after treatment.

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A good hair day for glowing nanoparticles

By raiding their local barber’s shop, scientists in China have found the ideal raw material for an emerging class of fluorescent nanoparticles.

The desirable optical properties, chemical inertness and biocompatibility of carbon dots has led researchers to explore their application in anti-counterfeiting fields and flat panel displays…

Interested? Read the full article at Chemistry World.

Photographs of carbon dot ink patterns under UV light

Photographs of carbon dot ink patterns under UV light

The original article can be read below:

Hair-Derived Carbon Dots toward Versatile Multidimensional Fluorescent Hybrid Materials
Si-Si Liu, Cai-Feng Wang, Chen-Xiong Li, Jing Wang, Li-Hua Mao and Su Chen
J. Mater. Chem. C, 2014, Accepted Manuscript
DOI: 10.1039/C4TC00636D

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Hot Article: A simple, low-cost CVD route to thin films of BiFeO3 for efficient water photo-oxidation

Hydrogen holds immeasurable promise in our search for alternative, sustainable, cleaner fuels. However, the simple, cheap production of hydrogen is still proving a problem. Water photolysis is a great way to achieve pure H2 and as O2 is the only side product it does not result in the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that arise from using hydrocarbons to produce H2. Unfortunately, the generation of H2 by water photolysis is challenging as the reaction that forms O2 is much slower than the H2 forming reaction. The use of an efficient photocatalyst can significantly improve the success of this process.

This paper by Moniz et al. details the development of just such a photocatalyst. In this work a bimetallic BiFeO3 catalyst is prepared using a novel method of Aerosol Assisted Chemical Vapour Deposition (AA CVD). This is the first time that this method has been used to prepare a photocatalyst of this type. The team go on to test this photocatalyst for the electrolysis of water using both UV and solar irridation and encouragingly, activity is confirmed for the BiFeO3 catalyst. Even more impressively the catalyst greatly outperforms both a commercially available photocatalyst (TiO2 Activ® glass) and another recently published photocatalyst (B-doped TiO2 films).

The novel synthetic methodology presented in this paper enables large area thin film deposition and as a result has potential for high volume applications in the future.

A simple, low-cost CVD route to thin films of BiFeO3 for efficient water photo-oxidation

Savio J. A. Moniz, Raul Quessada-Cabrera, Christopher S. Blackman, Junwang Tang, Paul Southern, Paul M. Weaver and Claire J. Carmalt,
J. Mater. Chem. A, 2014, 2, 2922-2927 C3TA14824F

H. L. Parker is a guest web writer for the Journal of Materials Chemistry blog. She currently works at the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence, the University of York.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest research, sign-up to our

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