This week’s chemistry news – Slinn Pickings

  • Skin cream slows down snake venom – DEADLY snake-bite venom could be slowed on its way into the blood by a cream applied to the bite site, giving victims time to seek help.
  • Liquid cement turns liquid metal – Concrete is heavy, tough and – you might think – a reliable insulator. But researchers in Japan have shown that, by doping it with free electrons, liquid cement can transform into a substance with metal-like electrical conductivity. According to the researchers, the surprising transition could lead to new types of semiconductor.
  • Getting a glimpse of adolescent universe from instrument-on-a-chip – Scientists know what the universe looked like when it was a baby. They know what it looks like today. What they don't know is how it looked in its youth. Thanks to technological advances, however, scientists hope to complete the photo album and provide a picture of how the cosmos developed into the kind of place that could support life like that found on Earth.
  • Chemically evolved bacteria – European scientists have created an Escherichia coli strain with a separate genome using chlorinated DNA. The genome should be unable to transfer back into unmodified bacteria, leading to what the researchers call a 'genetic firewall'.
  • A cool way to store hydrogen? – Years of researching new ways to store hydrogen efficiently – a vital prerequisite for any 'hydrogen economy' – have resulted in numerous exotic potential storage systems, from metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to carbon nanotubes. But now theoretical chemists in the US have suggested a rather more commonplace solution: ice.

Robert Slinn, chemist and writer, profers a fix of five fine chemical finds for his regular chemistry news column on Reactive Reports