Skip to content. Skip to navigation
Personal tools
You are here: Home Alchemist The Alchemist Newsletter: Feb 17, 2012
Document Actions

The Alchemist Newsletter: Feb 17, 2012

by chemweb last modified 02-22-12 08:04 AM
The Alchemist - February 17, 2012
The Alchemist Newsletter Logo
Not a subscriber? Join now.

February 17, 2012


issue overview
inorganic: Boron, not boring
nano: Fluttering nanoparticles
bioanalytical: Simple cell chip
materials: Quake-proof memory alloys
supramolecular: Molecular Matryoshka
award: Charged up award
This week The Alchemist learns that boron most certainly is not boring, it now being a record-breaker in a chemical flat land. For medical science, we now have nanoparticles that shimmer and change color as a butterfly wing and in the world of bioanalysis, an easy to stick together microfluidic device for testing toxicity. Thermodynamics, we learn, could be crucial to the successful use of smart materials and memory alloys in making structures better equipped to resist earthquakes. In organometallic supramolecular chemistry a team in Germany has constructed a bronze Matryoshka from copper and tin cages. Finally, this week's award goes to British chemist Peter Bruce who is working on lithium-air batteries that could last up to thirty times as long as current technology without bulking up or gaining weight.

arrowback to top

Boron, not boring

Alexander Boldyrev and colleagues at Utah State University, Logan, working with Lai-Sheng Wang and colleagues at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island have synthesized a planar boron compound that has the highest coordination number of any flat molecule, squeezing ten spoke-like bonds to boron atoms into a wheel. This astounding feat of engineering not only breaks previous records for such compounds but offers new insights into bonding, coordination and the development of boron chemistry. Theoretical chemist Pekka Pyykkö of the University of Helsinki, Finland, is impressed. "At a deeper, quantum mechanical level, I find the electronic structure entirely logical and a pretty example on the eighteen-electron (18e) rule," he says.

arrow10 out of 10 for boron's coordinated effort

arrowback to top

Fluttering nanoparticles

Metallic nanoparticles that have some of the photonic characteristics of a butterfly's wing could be used as simple color-change components of a new approach to medical diagnostic tests, say researchers from Attophotonics Biosciences GmbH in Austria and at the University of Applied Sciences, in Wiener Neustadt. The team has demonstrated proof of principle for the detection of a model compound, interleukin-6 an important biomarker for acute sepsis. The sensitivity is high and the nanoparticles can readily be incorporated into a lab-on-a-chip device, the team reports.

arrowThe butterfly effect in nanotech medical diagnostics

arrowback to top

Simple cell chip

Javier Atencia and colleagues at the US National Institute of Standards & Technology have taken a few sheets of plastic, a glass slide and some double-sided sticky tape to quickly and easily construct a lab-on-a-chip device for carrying out cell assays. Their "diffusion-based gradient generator" can be used to rapidly assess how changing concentrations of specific chemicals affect living cells. The microfluidic device could be used to carry out toxicity testing inexpensively on a range of chemicals.

arrowNew NIST 'Cell Assay on a Chip': Solid Results from Simple Means

arrowback to top

Quake-proof memory alloys

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are investigating whether or not shape-memory alloys might be useful construction materials for seismic-resistant structures. Reginald DesRoches and colleagues have developed a computer model to study how these materials respond thermodynamically and mechanically to loading from strong motion. Their calculations could help determine the viability of using smart alloys made from combinations of copper-zinc-aluminum-nickel, copper-aluminum-nickel or nickel-titanium in cables, bars, plates and helical springs for engineering applications. For standard materials, mechanics is usually sufficient for engineers, but with smart materials thermodynamics becomes an important component of the equations.

arrowModel Analyzes Shape-Memory Alloys for Use in Earthquake-Resistant Structures

arrowback to top

Molecular Matryoshka

As with the wooden Russian effigy of the maternal life cycle, the Matryoshka doll within a doll within a doll, a capsule of twelve copper atoms encases a single tin atom. But, the copper capsule is itself enveloped by 20 additional tin atoms. According to Thomas Faessler of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Germany, creator of the "bronze" Matryoshka, the substance itself is a rather unassuming fine, charcoal-gray powder. However, its nondescript appearance in the bulk belies the potential of these materials, with their large surface area to volume ratio, as catalysts for hydrogen transfer and other applications.

arrowBronze-Matryoshka: The metal in the metal in the metal

arrowback to top

Charged up award

Chemist Peter Bruce of the University of St Andrew, UK, is to be honored with the inaugural UK Science Award by AkzoNobel for his fundamental research into rechargeable lithium batteries. Bruce's work might one day transform the driving range of electric vehicles and make renewable energy more viable. Lithium-air batteries have the potential to store up to 30 times the power of current lithium batteries. This could extend the distance electric vehicles might travel between charges considerably and nudge us towards greater adoption of carbon-free transport to cut pollution in cities and facilitate greater use of electricity generation based on renewable energy sources.

arrowScientist to receive major award for work with batteries

arrowback to top

Previous Issues
Jan 26, 2012
Jan 13, 2012
Dec 29, 2011
Dec 16, 2011
Nov 23, 2011
Nov 11, 2011
Oct 28, 2011
Oct 14, 2011
Sep 28, 2011
Sep 16, 2011
Aug 30, 2011
Aug 19, 2011
Jul 27, 2011
Jul 14, 2011
Jun 29, 2011
Jun 17, 2011
May 26, 2011
May 12, 2011
Apr 29, 2011
Apr 15, 2011
Mar 25, 2011
Mar 11, 2011
Feb 25, 2011
Feb 10, 2011
Jan 26, 2011
Jan 12, 2011
Dec 29, 2010
Dec 14, 2010
Nov 23, 2010
Nov 12, 2010
Oct 27, 2010
Oct 13, 2010
Sep 30, 2010
Sep 15, 2010
Aug 25, 2010
Aug 11, 2010
Jul 28, 2010
Jul 14, 2010
Jun 23, 2010
Jun 8, 2010
May 26, 2010
May 17, 2010
Apr 28, 2010
Apr 16, 2010
Mar 23, 2010
Mar 9, 2010
Feb 24, 2010
Feb 9, 2010
Jan 26, 2010
Jan 12, 2010
Dec 23, 2009
Dec 13, 2009
Nov 24, 2009
Nov 11, 2009
Oct 28, 2009
Oct 14, 2009
Sep 21, 2009
Sep 9, 2009
Aug 26, 2009
Aug 11, 2009
Jul 29, 2009
Jul 14, 2009
Jun 24, 2009
Jun 10, 2009
May 27, 2009
May 12, 2009
Apr 28, 2009
Apr 15, 2009
Mar 25, 2009
Mar 10, 2009
Feb 24, 2009
Feb 11, 2009
Jan 27, 2009
Jan 13, 2009
Dec 24, 2008
Dec 10, 2008
Nov 25, 2008
Nov 13, 2008
Oct 28, 2008
Oct 14, 2008
Sep 25, 2008
Sep 10, 2008
Aug 26, 2008
Aug 12, 2008
Jul 23, 2008
Jul 09, 2008
Jun 24, 2008
Jun 11, 2008
May 28, 2008
May 14, 2008
Apr 24, 2008
Apr 9, 2008
Mar 25, 2008
Mar 12, 2008
Feb 27, 2008
Feb 13, 2008
Jan 22, 2008
Jan 08, 2008


The Alchemist is published under the copyright of Inc. ©2012. For additional information including contact information and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Rick Whiteman <> or visit our web sites at and

For assistance with your account or general support, please visit

Web Search

Powered by Plone CMS, the Open Source Content Management System

This site conforms to the following standards: