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The Alchemist Newsletter: December 6, 2005

by chemweb last modified 03-20-09 08:08 AM
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December 6, 2005

The Alchemist this week turns on to molecular switches, neutron news, antimatter molecules, and cannabis inhalers. Finally, we also get turned on to super compressible nanotube foams.

nanotechnology: Flipping the molecular switch
analytical: Neutron News
physical: What's the antimatter?
pharma: Drug research goes to pot
materials: Flexing nanotube foams

Flipping the molecular switch

Researchers at Pennsylvania State, Rice, and Oregon Universities have devised a method for switching the state of single molecules. The research demonstrates that single-molecule switches can made to respond predictably in an electric field. The researchers engineered different molecules to switch on and others to switch off in response to the same electric field. Paul Weiss and colleagues will publish details of their work in JACS in December. The next step is for chemists to find a way to wire these molecular switches together.

Scientists discover how to flip a molecular switch

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Neutron News

November 24, the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart and the Technical University of Munich inaugurated a new kind of neutron/X-ray reflectometer called "N-REX +" which the developers say will provide new insights into materials such as high temperature superconductors, semiconductors, and ceramics. High flux neutrons could be key to understanding the behaviour of materials and thin films at the atomic level.

Neutrons, the Spies of the Nanoworld

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What's the antimatter?

"Molecules" composed of matter and its opposite number antimatter have been observed in a fleetingly short-lived gas. The molecules form as a result of interactions between positronium atoms - a bound electron and positron - in a dense but short-lived gas of such atoms. Allen Mills of the University of California at Riverside and his colleagues collected and compressed positrons in a magnetic trap and then fired super-intense positron pulses at a thin film of "nano-porous" silica. The team observed a much higher positronium decay rate than expected, suggesting that some of the atoms were joining up to form "molecules".

Matter-Antimatter Molecules

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Drug research goes to pot

UK multiple sclerosis sufferers, and potentially those with rheumatoid arthritis, could soon be puffing on "cannabis" inhalers thanks to a government ruling. The British Home Office will allow the mouth spray drug, Sativex, to be imported for individual patients in exceptional cases, provided it is physician recommended. It is unclear how many of the estimated 85,000 MS patients in the UK might benefit from Sativex. Anecdotal evidence suggests, however, that some use more traditional forms of cannabis to relieve their symptoms.

Cannabis-based medicine given go-ahead to treat MS patients

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Flexing nanotube foams

Films of aligned carbon nanotubes are apparently super-compressible and could be used to create nanotube foams that maintain their resilience even after thousands of compression cycles. In conventional foams, strength and flexibility are mutually exclusive. With the carbon nanotube foam, there is no such tradeoff. These nanotubes can be squeezed to less than 15% of their normal lengths and might be useful in flexible electromechanical systems or energy-absorbent coatings.

Nanotube Foams Flex and Rebound With "Super Compressibility"

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-- David Bradley, Science Journalist


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Nature Chemical Biology

December issue published - view selected articles free online
The December issue of Nature Chemical Biology demonstrates the utility of small molecules for modulating biological processes and offering leads for therapeutic applications. Two studies focussing on small molecule regulation of proteins involved in the immune response are free to view this month. Visit Nature Chemical Biology to read more!

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