Over on SpectroscopNOW.com 雷竞技官网 reports on the usual eclectic mix of science news with a hint of the spectral. This week:
Heavy metal plants – Herbal medicine is a global phenomenon, a multibillion dollar industry, and its raw materials phytochemicals are widely used as the precursors for regulated pharmaceutical products. One problematic area on both sides is in product purity, with contamination by toxic heavy metals one of the most common complaints. Now, researchers in Argentina have developed a way to “digest” herbal medicines to improve the detection limits of heavy metal contaminants, such as lead and cadmium, for quality control of these products.
Tubeless and hyphenated – Slightly more esoteric, but equally important for analytical science is the development of a new software algorithm for getting the most out nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) experiments. According the Gary Martin of Schering-Plough, the software developed with ACD/Labs collaboration, means that even if a sample of product has been lost, the spectroscopist can retrieve latent information from the initial NMR runs without having to find a new sample and spend a week record experimental spectra. Martin confesses that this new approach to sophisticated NMR is not without its critics. He gave an ENC invited lecture on the subject of this new technique, known as Unsymmetrical Indirect Covariance, and told me that his talk raised a few eyebrows, to say the least.
Super plat cats – A new form of platinum, 24-facet nanocrystals, have been produced by an international collaboration. The novel tetrahexahedral particles are four times as effective a catalyst as the industrially important commercial platinum available for oxidising formic acid and ethanol. The work could lead to a more efficient process of catalytic oxidation for the production of hydrogen for fuel cells. “If we are going to have a hydrogen economy, we will need better catalysts,” says Zhong Lin Wang of the Georgia Institute of Technology, “This new shape for platinum catalyst nanoparticles greatly improves their activity.” Discussion continues elsewhere on Sciencebase regarding the putative folly of a hydrogen economy. Hopefully, if such an approach to alternative energy does not come to pass, Wang will find numerous other industrial applications for these super plat cats.
Consolidated database – US researchers have exploited a new technique to identify almost all the chemical changes nature makes by adding phosphate groups to human proteins. They have now hooked up this data to the publicly accessible PhosphoMotif Finder system in an effort to stimulate further biomedical research into the vital process of phosphorylation.