These are my recent science picks, including my latest contributions to spectroscopyNOW.com
- Drug testing – A simple analytical approach to identifying drugs of abuse would be a boon to forensic scientists and law enforcement agencies. A collaboration between researchers in the US and Europe demonstrates how an assessment of different methods using chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry reveals that multivariate selectivity can take into account the degree of resolution between nominally unresolved peaks due to the presence of various drugs in a forensic sample and so allow quicker identification.
- Solar fullerenes – Sheffield's David Lidzey working with Athene Donald of the University of Cambridge and experts from Cardiff University and Nick Terrill at the Diamond Light Source, the UK's synchrotron facility in Didcot, have investigated the structure of solar cell materials to help them improve photovoltaic efficiencies. The research into understanding the structure of plastics used in new-types of low-cost solar cell based on fullerenes could improve their efficiency significantly.
- Fungal inspection – Two strains of fungi isolated from soil and a commercial white-rot fungus have been tested for the biodegradation of untreated, UV-, and heat-treated bisphenol A polycarbonate (PC) to see whether BPA release can be reduced. NMR and FTIR spectroscopy showed the formation of methyl groups due to the pre-treatment process, while EDAX analysis revealed surface oxidation of the PC.
- Attosecond atoms – Atoms reacting on the attosecond timescale can now be observed with unprecedented detail using a new laser spectroscopy technique reported recently in Nature.
- Chemistry news round up – Electrochemistry could be used in a new approach to detecting the spread of tumor cells in cancer patients, The Alchemist learns this week, while important clues about the impact of forest fires on the nitrogen cycle emerge from studies of charcoal and bacterial. In materials science, a bullet-proof material that behaves like a solid form of cornstarch and non-drip gloss paint emerges from Singapore research while electron transfer revealed by X-rays could explain solvent effects in the behavior of some proteins. News from the Gulf of Mexico turns out to be quite oily despite claims of clear waters. Finally, the American Chemical Society names almost 200 Fellows for 2010.
- Organic chemistry, naturally – The Reaction – entertainment and engagement with chemistry – The Daily Mail recently highlighted the RSC's £1m bounty for "chemical-free" products, Jon Edwards looked through the weird and wonderful things people sent him to claim the prize.
- Chemicalize.org – Chemicalize is a public web resource developed by ChemAxon which uses ChemAxon's Name to structure parsing and structure based predictions to identify chemical structures from web pages and other text and provide predicted data related to each structure.