Six Slinn Picks – chemical news

  • The ‘molecular octopus’: A little brother of ‘Schroedinger’s cat’ – For the first time, the quantum behaviour of molecules consisting of more than 400 atoms was demonstrated by quantum physicists based at the University of Vienna in collaboration with chemists from Basel and Delaware.
  • Neutral atoms made to act like electrically charged particles – Completing the story they started by creating synthetic magnetic fields, scientists from the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), a collaboration of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland, have now made atoms act as if they were charged particles accelerated by electric fields.
  • Imaging the paintings under the paintings of the Old Masters – Speaking at the 241st National meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, an international team of scientists have now described use of a new technique to see the paintings under the paintings of Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Rubens, and other 17th Century Old Master painters.
  • Amino acid synthesis hints at how the genetic code expanded – The detailed pathway for the biosynthesis of pyrrolysine – the 22nd and latest amino acid to be discovered – has been outlined by US researchers. The results show that each pyrrolysine is made from two lysine precursors, pointing towards a route by which new amino acids could have been introduced into the genetic code during evolution.
  • Nanoparticles help reveal hidden fingerprints – Criminal investigations may benefit from new forensic methods based on nanoparticles. A technique using gold nanoparticles in combination with antibodies has shown promising results for enhancing fingerprints that are over a week old.
  • A New Twist on Aqua Regia – By coupling common organic reagents with the inorganic reagent thionyl chloride (SOCl2), a team of Georgia Tech materials chemists has created an organic version of aqua regia, the centuries-old 1:3 mixture of concentrated nitric and hydrochloric acids that is one of the few substances known to dissolve noble metals such as gold.

Chemist and writer Robert Slinn picks six of the best for his regular web column on Reactive Reports – Slinn Pickings.