Browsing: Chemistry

Numerous research efforts have attempted to curb the damage caused by scar tissue that results from heart attacks. Now researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have taken yet another step forward in the development of injectable gels that can strengthen areas most weakened by heart attacks and minimize the chances of subsequent heart failure. Every year, 750,000 people in the U.S. suffer heart attacks, which constrict the arteries of the most vital organ in our body and restrict its blood flow to a point that either damages or kills cells in its tissue. After this initial event, damage persists through…

Using strands of vitamin B2 that originated in genetically-modified fungi, researchers at the University of Toronto (U of T) have developed a battery with high capacity and high voltage that may pave the way for environmentally-friendly, metal-free batteries. Claimed by the researchers to be comparable to existing high-energy lithium-ion batteries, with a capacity of around 125 mAh and a 2.5 V potential, the U of T unit uses flavin derived from vitamin B2 as the battery’s cathode rather than a lithium-based material. “We’ve been looking to nature for a while to find complex molecules for use in a number of…

Carbon capture and storage, or carbon sequestration, is one approach proposed to offset mounting C02 emissions, but the possibility of gas seeping out and escaping into the atmosphere is one of the factors holding the technology back. Researchers have now come up with a technique that promises to overcome this problem, finding that injecting CO2 into volcanic rocks can turn the gas solid within two years, which is a drastically shorter timeframe than the centuries or millennia the current scientific consensus suggests. It would be a hugely significant breakthrough, but the prospect of an effective carbon sequestration method would also…

Apple is still hell-bent on rebranding the iPad, as stagnant sales indicate that customers aren’t drooling over tablets the way they used to. iPad Air sales stalling? Let’s make a huge one that’s kinda like a Surface! Uh oh, that one isn’t setting the world on fire either? Here’s a smaller version of that big one! Apple’s increasingly cluttered iPad lineup today gives us an upgraded successor to the iPad Air 2 with a new name, a few new features and a questionable US$100 price hike. Apparently being the best tablet isn’t enough anymore; Apple wants to frame the iPad…

As electronic devices become ever more complex, and the densities of components in those devices increases exponentially, we are rapidly approaching the day when the limitations of Moore’s Law will be realized. In an effort to avert this eventuality, research has concentrated on moving away from traditional silicon technologies and into the realms of molecule-sized components and alternative materials. In this vein, researchers at the University of Georgia (UGA) and Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in Israel have, for the first time, created a nanoscale electronic diode from a single DNA molecule. Diodes allow current to flow in one direction in an…

Ordinarily, if doctors want to know if a patient’s wound is infected, the process takes 24 hours. Unfortunately, a lot can go wrong in that amount of time. Thanks to a new process developed at Washington DC’s George Washington University, however, wound infections could soon be detected in less than a minute. As things currently stand, doctors must take a sample from a wound, then leave it in a petri dish for a day to see if any bacterial cultures form. In the meantime, if there is an infection, it goes untreated. One option is to administer broad-spectrum antibiotics anyway,…

The danger posed by rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide has seen many schemes proposed to remove a proportion it from the air. Rather than simply capture this greenhouse gas and bury it in the ground, though, many experiments have managed to transform CO2 into useful things like carbon nanofibers or even fuels, such as diesel. Unfortunately, the over-arching problem with many of these conversions is the particularly high operating temperatures that require almost counterproductive amounts of energy to produce relatively low yields of fuel. Now researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) claim to have devised a way…

A more cost-effective fuel cell catalyst material consisting of iron-nitrogen complexes embedded in tiny islands of graphene could be used in place of costly platinum. Research by teams at Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin and TU Darmstadt have produced the catalyst material and found that its efficiency approaches that of platinum. To synthesize the mix, the researchers had to devise a way of reducing metal contaminants in the catalyst material to near-zero. Inorganics, usually metals, interfere with a catalyst’s efficiency by reducing the oxygen reactions that are at the heart of a fuel cell’s catalytic function. The answer was an iron-nitrogen complex…

Magnesium has a number of potential advantages when it comes to engineering. It is considered the lightest of structural metals (those capable of bearing loads in buildings and cars) and it is the eighth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. On the flipside, however, it is not as strong and durable as some of its counterparts. Scientists are now reporting to have overcome its main limitations by infusing it with silicon carbide nanoparticles to form a new type of super-strong composite material, which they claim may lead to lighter and more efficient airplanes, spacecraft and cars. “It’s been proposed…

Eugene Chen, a chemist at the Colorado State University, has developed a fully reusable bioplastic – a unique new biopolymer that can be fully recycled back to its original monomer state for reuse through a heat-based reaction using GBL (Gamma-butyrolactone). Previously, biopolymers could only be partially converted back to usable forms, contributing to the tens of millions of pounds of waste plastic that makes its way into the world’s oceans annually (over 5 trillion fragments). Chen and partners were able to create linear and cyclic versions of the polymer by varying the catalysts used and the reaction conditions of the production process, upturning existing…

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