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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.

(more…)

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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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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Possibly, its Graphene the Wonder Material!

“Wonder material” they called it when it was discovered last decade and it started to be center of attention from 2010. To understand the reasoning behind calling graphene a wonder material, one need not be a rocket scientist. The beauty of this material is so conspicuous that it can fascinate anybody on the globe. Graphene is one the few materials in existence which is very thin, conductive, transparent and flexible at the same time. The wonder of this material’s thinness is so intriguing, that according to scientists, just ounce of graphene could cover 28 football fields. Only a single atom thick, Graphene could take electronics to the next level with much thinner, faster and cheaper components compared to the current silicon based electronics.

We all know the saying nothing is perfect, however researchers all over the globe are claiming that Graphene may not be perfect but it is close to perfect. The major challenges for making Graphene a game changer in electronics are control over chemical and physical properties by chemical functionalization and processing them upon up-scalable approaches.

Graphene composite.
Investigators addressing these major challenges have explored the field of composites of graphene with organic semi-conductors and their findings are making graphene close to perfect if not perfect. A. Schlierf, P Samori and V.Palermo brilliantly reviewed the processes involved in modification of Graphene with organic semi-conductors in the article cited below. Combining the properties of organic semiconductors like well defined and tunable band gaps with the properties of graphene like flexibility, a dream material for the semi-conductor industry can be developed.  A. Schlierf, P Samori and V.Palermo, in this article, not only review the   modification of the graphene in solid, liquid and gases phases but also briefly summarize the electronic, magnetic and optical properties of the composite. This review gives precise insight into path graphene should be taken onto to make it perfect material for electronics.

Graphene-organic composites for electronics: optical and electronic interactions in vacuum, liquids and thin solid films
A. Schlierf, P. Samori and V. Palermo
J. Mater. Chem. C, 2014, 2, 3129-3143. DOI:10.1039/C3TC32153C

Padmanabh Joshi is a guest web writer for the Journal of Materials Chemistry blog. He currently works at the Department of Chemistry, University of Cincinnati.

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

Article link: http://xlink.rsc.org/?doi:10.1039/c3tc32153c
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Endothelial cell thrombogenicity is reduced by ATRP-mediated grafting of gelatin onto PCL surfaces

One of the most promising areas of materials chemistry research is the creation of synthetic analogues of biological tissue. The development of such materials would reduce the need for transplants and their associated problems. For example, polymer-based, artificial vascular grafts are a promising candidate for use in bypass operations. Unfortunately, they increase the risk of increasing thrombus (blood clot) formation. This in turn can lead to risk of serious medical problems such as stroke, heart attack and pulmonary embolism.

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have found that using functionalised polycaprolactone (PCL) can lead to reduced thrombogenicity. PCL itself is already widely used for in vivo applications although its hydrophobicity reduces its usefulness as an artificial blood vessel. Hydrophobic materials are also thought to be unsuitable because of their weak interactions with endothelial cells (ECs) – something commonly implicated in thrombus formation. To overcome these limitations, poly(glycidyl methacrylate) (PGMA) was grown from PCL surfaces via a graft-from living polymerisation. The side chains of the PGMA were then used to attach gelatine molecules. It was found that the gelatin coat decreased the hydrophobicity of the surface leading to improved EC adhesion and a corresponding reduction in thrombogenicity.

Endothelial cell thrombogenicity is reduced by ATRP-mediated grafting of gelatin onto PCL surfaces
Gordon Minru Xiong, Shaojun Yuan, Chek Kun Tan, Jun Kit Wang, Yang Liu, Timothy Thatt Yang Tan, Nguan Soon Tan and Cleo Choong
J. Mater. Chem. B, 2014, 2, 485-493.  DOI:10.1039/C3TB20760a

James Serginson is a guest web writer for the Journal of Materials Chemistry blog. He currently works at Imperial College London carrying out research into nanocomposites.

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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