Sunday Slinn Pickings

  • Stanford researchers develop new technology for cheaper, more efficient solar cells – Applying an organic layer less than a nanometer thick improves the efficiency of certain solar cells three-fold. The technology could lead to cheaper, more efficient solar panels.
  • Manipulating Molecules for a New Breed of Electronics – In research appearing in today’s issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology, Nongjian “NJ” Tao, a researcher at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, has demonstrated a clever way of controlling electrical conductance of a single molecule, by exploiting the molecule’s mechanical properties.
  • Insect antennae inspire responsive nanopores – Researchers in the US have created nanopores that can capture, concentrate and shift molecules in predictable ways. The development – inspired by the waxy coating on insect antennae – could help to characterise proteins and membranes for therapeutic drugs.
  • Green chemistry offers route towards zero-waste production – Novel green chemical technologies will play a key role helping society move towards the elimination of waste while offering a wider range of products from biorefineries, according to professor James Clark, Director of the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence, at the University of York.
  • How disordered proteins spread from cell to cell, potentially spreading disease – Misfolded proteins can get into cells and form large aggregates by recruiting normal proteins. These aggregates are associated with neurodegenerative diseases. Stanford biology Professor Ron Kopito has found that the protein linked to Huntington’s can spread from one cell to another. His research may explain how these diseases spread through our brains, an understanding that might lead to the development of drugs to target the misfolded proteins.
  • Mimicking photosynthesis path to solar-derived hydrogen fuel – Inexpensive hydrogen for automotive or jet fuel may be possible by mimicking photosynthesis, according to a Penn State materials chemist, but a number of problems need to be solved first
  • The world’s oldest water? – New evidence bolsters the notion that deep saline groundwaters in South Africa’s Witwatersrand Basin may have remained isolated for many thousands, perhaps even millions, of years. The study, recently accepted for publication in Chemical Geology, found the noble gas neon dissolved in water in three-kilometre deep crevices.
  • Speed dating for pharmaceuticals – A simple analysis of hydrogen bond strengths finds the best crystallisation partners for drugs, say UK scientists.
  • Identifying the cause of pregnancy loss – A protein has been identified as a possible indicator of recurring pregnancy loss by scientists from Korea. Kwang-Hyun Baek from CHA University, Seoul, and colleagues found that ITI-H4, a protein found in the blood whose function is unclear, was fragmented in the blood samples of patients suffering from recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL).
  • Designer foods – The way that we digest fat could be controlled by food design, providing potential health benefits, according to scientists from Australia.

Another high yielding news day from Robert Slinn for Reactive Reports in his regular column: Slinn Pickings.