10 quick chemical hits: Slinn Pickings

  • Researchers Discover New Way to Design Metal Nanoparticle Catalysts – Researchers at Northwestern University have discovered a new strategy for fabricating metal nanoparticles in catalysts that promises to enhance the selectivity and yield for a wide range of structure-sensitive catalytic reactions.
  • Simpler way of making proteins could lead to new nanomedicine agents – Researchers have developed a simple method of making short protein chains with spiral structures that can also dissolve in water, two desirable traits not often found together. The researchers observed that as they increased the length of the side chains with charges on the end, the polypeptides' propensity for forming helices also increased. Such structures could have applications as building blocks for self-assembling nanostructures and as agents for drug and gene delivery.
  • Needle-in-a-haystack search identifies potential brain disease drug – Scientists who examined more than 10,000 chemical compounds during the last year in search of potential new drugs for a group of untreatable brain diseases, are reporting that one substance shows unusual promise. The early positive signs for so-called prion diseases come from research in laboratory mice and cell cultures, they say in a report in ACS' Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
  • Bacteria living on old-growth trees ?may help forests grow – By collecting mosses on the forest floor and then at 15 and 30 meters up into the forest canopy, Dr. Lindo was able to show both that the cyanobacteria are more abundant in mosses high above the ground, and that they "fix" twice as much nitrogen as those associated with mosses on the forest floor.
  • New high-performance lithium-ion battery ‘top candidate’ for electric cars – Scientists are reporting development of an advanced lithium-ion battery that is ideal for powering the electric vehicles now making their way into dealer showrooms. The new battery can store large amounts of energy in a small space and has a high rate capacity, meaning it can provide current even in extreme temperatures.
  • Sifting Through Complex 2-D NMR Data – To understand how an organism's biochemistry relates to biological functions, such as reproduction or cell-to-cell communication, researchers struggle to make sense of complex chemical mixtures of metabolites. Now a study demonstrates a technique to analyze two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance data.
  • Power of Research: a new online game to inspire the scientists of the future – A new strategy browser game – the "Power of research" – is officially launched today. Supported by the European Commission, "Power of Research" has been developed to inspire young Europeans to pursue scientific careers and disseminate interesting up-to-date scientific information.
  • Researchers achieve a full film frame of a family of proteins essential for cell function – Researchers at IRB Barcelona have completed the 3D structural sequence adopted by several essential proteins in the exchange of substances between the extra and intracellular milieu. This finding provides a global perspective of the structural changes that occur in these relevant proteins during basic cell processes, such as protein synthesis, the regulation of metabolism and cell volume, and nerve transmission.
  • Polymer coat helps nanoparticles penetrate mucus – US researchers have shown how biodegradable, medically safe polymer coatings can help nanoparticles penetrate the mucus lining that protects human tissues to deliver drugs efficiently.
  • Capsules for safer and more reliable lithium ion batteries – Capsules coated onto electrodes could mitigate potential problems with lithium ion batteries by turning the batteries off when they overheat and 'healing' the electrodes when they crack and degrade, according to a researcher in the US. Scott White from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign says that in his lab self-healing materials have inspired a new concept for battery safety and self-repair.

More chemistry news from chemist Robert Slinn for Reactive Reports in his regular column: Slinn Pickings.