CV Check in Nürnberg

August 18, 2010 by

When travelling to Nürnberg, you shouldn’t forget to bring along your CV (of course in English!) as there will a professional CV check at the CareerDays on Tuesday, 31 August and there are still some slots available.
You can choose either to be checked by a native speaker (Careers Adviser of the Royal Society of Chemistry) or by German recruiting experts from Sanofi-Aventis, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Bayer Healthcare, Merck or Evonik.
Combined with the opportunities given by the JobFair and the partnering platform you have the best chance to start your career in Nürnberg!

See you at the 3rd EuCheMS Chemistry Congress,



Determining the structure by looking at the molecule

August 4, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgIn many cases it is notoriously difficult to determine the exact structure of a molecule, especially with larger ones. Stereocenters tend to make things worse, and interesting molecules tend to have several of them. Have you ever sat up to the neck in a pile of inconclusive spectra and wished you could just hold it and see the molecule just like in those colored balls-and-sticks-models everyone likes to draw in their papers?

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Norman Borlaug: “Do the best possible job you can do”

July 23, 2010 by

Norman Borlaug is considered to be one of the greatest scientists who ever lived. He was the father of the Green Revolution that multiplied agricultural yields all over the planet, saving millions from famine and starvation.

Here’s his advice for young scientists who want to follow in his footsteps:

Self-healing superhydrophobic surfaces

July 20, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgI have been on to self-healing materials for some time, usually writing about them in my german blog or for newspapers and magazines. Self-healing is what makes biology superior to technology. Organisms don’t just have astonishing properties – materials have, too – but they retain them by constant regeneration and while doing so even adapt to changing conditions. We want, we need our advanced materials to do the same.

This is especially true for superhydrophobic coatings, which cause the Lotus Effect and hence are very promising not only for self-cleaning items, but also for anti-corrosion or anti-adhesive coatings. Everyone who ever scratched barnacles from the bottom of a ship knows how useful this could be. Since a superhydrophobic coating also reduces drag on surfaces, painting commercial ships with such a formulation would be a billion-dollar business.
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Put down that Helium! An Interview with Nobel Laureate Robert Richardson

July 9, 2010 by

The coming scarcity of the noble gas Helium has been the topic of a few media articles recently, for example the one by John Timmer from Ars Technica (who also was of great help during my preparation of the interview below). The basic idea comes from Robert Richardson who got the 1996 Physics Nobel for discovering suprafluidity in, yes, Helium. His lecture at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting attracted a great deal of attention, precisely because no one really had ever heard of that problem.

Helium is, essentially a non-renewable resource that is, while being the second-most abundant element in the universe, comparatively scarce on earth. The main source is alpha decay of certain unstable isotopes in minerals, and as you might imagine, that’s a rather slow process. There are several cryogenic applications like high-end NMR spectrometers that won’t run without Helium, so there is no easy replacement. On the other hand, there are huge amounts of helium wasted every day because the gas is kept artificially cheap.

I met Professor Richardson at the Lindau conference and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about the looming resource crisis, it’s causes and possible solutions.

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Azobenzene photoswitching in vesicles

June 28, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgThe photoswitching capability of azobenzenes has recently been used extensively in photoreactive supramolecular materials. One of the most astonishing uses of azonenzene photoswitching is the reversible association of these molecules with certain cyclodextrines. Azobenzenes change their structure reversibly under irradiation. There’s a cis-form and a trans-form, and photoisomerisation happens reliably wavelengths of 350 (trans –> cis) and 455 (cis –> trans) nanometer.

As it happens the trans-azobenzene fits snugly in the cyclodextrine cavity, while the bent cis-form doesn’t. This offers a number of interesting possibilities, ranging from the inevitable switchable hydrogels to rather more amazing structures, such as switchable ion channels and functionalized surfaces. Read the rest of this entry »

Newsflash: How to visit the conference – for free…

June 28, 2010 by

You want to come to the 3rd EuCheMS Chemistry Congress in Nürnberg but you don’t have the money and no grant in sight? Well, you should think about becoming a

Volunteer for the Organiser

This way, you will be registered for free and though you have to work during the congress, you still will have the chance to visit lectures. But there are also some catches, of course: You have to wear a “Volunteer-Shirt” so everybody knows that you can help, and you have to speak at least English (fluent). As always, additional languages are an asset.

In case you’re interested, please contact

See you in Nürnberg!

Newsflash: Preliminary Program Online!

June 24, 2010 by

Hey all,
another milestone has been reached. The daily schedules of the EuCHeMS Congress 2010 are available now. Almost 90% of the lectures have been captured already. Now you got the great chance to develop your personal seminar schedule to satisfy your demands the best! Check it out, right here!

See you in Nürnberg

A catalyst for axial chirality

June 18, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgAxial-chirality or atropisomerism is a very useful property as demonstrated by various chiral catalysts containing BINOL, BINAP and similar groups, but not only there. Many important natural products like e.g. the antibiotic Vancomycin are also atropisomers, which makes this property a very important aspect of stereoselective chemical synthesis. Which is extremely difficult to achieve synthetically with sufficient enantiomeric excesses. I personally always considered it next to impossible, except in special cases, when, for example, one configuration is enforced over the other by the shape of the rest of the molecule.

However, it seems that I’m wrong and that there is a way. Recently a group around Jeffrey L. Gustafson from Yale made some interesting progress in that direction. They report a tripeptide catalyst that mediates highly enantioselective electrophilic bromination of aromatic rings. The significance for atropisomerism stems from the fact that bromine atoms next to a biaryl single bond effectively prevent rotation around this bond if another functional group is present at the other ring.
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Gas separation with nanoporous materials

June 9, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgWith increasing demand for effective separation of small-molecule gases – think of carbon caption and storage – there has been a lot of research recently into strategies and materials suitable for those applications. The traditional way to separate gases like nitrogen, oxygen or carbon dioxide is to freeze them out one by one, which is a very energy-consuming and in the case of oxygen occasionally even dangerous thing to do (famous last words: “Should my solvent turn blue in the cryo trap?”). Also, you can’t realistically sequester carbon dioxide from power plants this way.
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Amino acid crystallisation and the origin of life

May 31, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgRecently I came across a number of attempts to explain the “handedness” of life – the fact that proteins consist only of L-amino acids – by the crystallization behavior of amino acids. The general idea is that something that happens at the transition between solution and crystal that favors one of the enantiomers over the other. I have to admit that it sounds a lot less esoteric than the idea that polarized starlight somehow influenced the formation of interstellar amino acids sufficiently to create such an effect, but frankly, I don’t buy it.
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Quality of Living Ranking 2010 – Nürnberg gets Top Ranking

May 27, 2010 by

Just stumbeld over this year’s “Quality of Living Ranking” by Mercer Consulting. In this study that ranks cities worthwhile to live in, our congress venue is no. 24 topping such lovely places like Dublin, San Francisco, Helsinki, Paris, London, Tokyo, Barcelona, Madrid or NewYork! In the Eco-city Ranking, the position is even better: Nürnberg is no. 13 worldwide!

So you see, just as Dr. Richard Pike, Executive Director of RSC, said in our ‘Invitation to Nuremberg’-movie:
“Germany is a great place to be!”
and with the Eco-city ranking you almost have to join the symposium “Ressources and Environment” – where else could this congress be spotted better this year?

See you in Nürnberg!

The amazing spider silk

May 25, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgEven if you don’t follow materials research closely you may have come across the amazing properties of spider silk. The stuff is stronger than steel, yet more elastic than most artificial fibres, despite being made of proteins only. It owes its remarkable strength to hydrogen bonds and its microstructure of amorphous and crystalline domains.

But the really amazing thing about spider silk is its assembly. The precursor protein solution is stored as a stable liquid within the spider’s body, but when it exits through the spinning gland it immediately precipitates into a solid protein thread. This shows not only what amazing tricks are possible with those versatile biomolecules, but also that we have only just begun to unravel their secrets. There have been, however, two recent publications in Nature going a long way to explaining the controlled transition from solution to silk. The one I found most inspiring deals with the molecular details of a pH switch at the N-terminus of silk proteins.
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Current State – Participants and Abstracts

May 21, 2010 by

Hey all,

some information after the deadlines for early registration and abstract submission passed on by. Right now, there are already more than 1400 participants registered representing more than 40 countries. The number of abstracts is even more impressing as over 1600 abstratcs are submitted to be reviewed by the scientific committee.
These numbers already indicate that the 3rd EuCheMS Chemistry Congress 2010 in Nürnberg will be the highlight for chemistry and life sciences this year and together with the career days and the numerous exhibitors from industry you get a truly unique chance – but only when participating yourself!

So see you in Nürnberg!

How toxic are the dispersants used to fight the oil?

May 14, 2010 by

Now that we know that the hole drilled by the Deepwater Horizon will, for the foreseeable time, keep on gushing, we better take a look at the chemicals used to keep the oil from forming a film at the surface. Unsurprisingly, those chemicals are rather toxic by themselves, although they are far less persistent in the environment than crude oil. As far as I know, about 500,000 gallons of dispersants have already been deployed in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, either by ship or by plane.
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Biodegradable organic nanoparticles

May 5, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgSomehow this never occurred to me before, but nanoparticles don’t have to be made from metals or other inorganics. They can even be biodegradable. It’s something you tend to forget when you keep reading papers about how metal oxide nanoparticles penetrate cells and catalyze the formation of free radicals or whatever.

But of course there is always the option of creating nano-sized chunks of common polymers. The major drawback is that they don’t have as interesting physical properties of inorganic particles, with all those size-depending effects and abundant catalytically active sites. They are, in short, a lot less interesting than their inorganic counterparts and that’s why you rarely hear about them.
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Mapping the wetting

April 28, 2010 by

When it comes to chemistry, surfaces are the places to be. Where two phases meet, interesting stuff is bound to happen. One of the phase interactions that received increased attention during the last few years is the peculiar meeting of a liquid and a solid. One rather interesting phenomenon encountered here is the lotus effect, where water drops roll off a surface because it is not only hydrophobic, but also nanostructured to reduce affinity further. We call this, for obvious reasons, superhydrophobic. Afterwards, surfaces were constructed that are superoleophobic, and amazingly one that is both at the same time. This tunable property of a liquid-solid interface is called wettability, and it is probably the prototypal liquid-solid interaction.

ResearchBlogging.orgFrom a chemists point of view, however, the concept of wettability has a major flaw: It is entirely macroscopic. You define superhydrophobicity by measuring the contact angle between a drop of water and the surface. On the molecular level the concept of wettability is poorly defined. And that’s not the only example for this problem. There is a general lack of information about molecular and atomic details of liquid-solid interactions, especially when compared to the knowledge to be gained. Just recently a paper about supercooled liquid gold, for example, revealed astonishing details about the way the surface influences the freezing point of a liquid.
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Supercooled liquid gold alloy

April 22, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgIt’s well-known that many liquid metals can be cooled below their freezing point. This is, scientists assume, due to dense and symmetric, but non-periodic ordering within the liquid. This theory implies that the freezing point of supercooled metal liquids can be controlled, just like crystallization can be induced by a template – all it takes is something that stabilizes the short-range order of the liquid. In the latest issue of Nature researchers from Grenoble published an impressive proof of this concept, not only showing that phase transistion temperatures depend on several variables, but also revealing the structure forced on the liquid.
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Even greener ionic liquids

April 14, 2010 by

Ionic liquids are already known as „green“ solvents since they don’t evaporate and neither burn nor explode, which is what every chemist really is looking for in a solvent. Additionally, they are powerful solvents with easily tunable properties and of course electrically conducting. Very useful stuff, ionic liquids. Unfortunately they are generally at least as toxic as normal solvents, and since they look rather promising for everyday applications like batteries and even cosmetics, that is a serious drawback.

There is, however, one huge advantage to ionic liquids: Since they all consist of cations and anions which can be combined at will, every new compound really means that there are dozens of new, unique solvents available. Although many current compounds are based on quaternary ammonium salts, some of which are potent biocides, the structural diversity of known compounds suggest that truly green ionic liquids are well within reach.
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The International Picture Contest – Everything is Chemistry

April 13, 2010 by

This news just made it way on my desk and I think, this is something that might be interesting for some of you:

The European Young Chemists Network (EYCN) is running the international picture contest “Everything is Chemistry” right now. The contest started midth of March and the final deadline for submissions is June 30th. There is a total price money of 3.000 Euro to be awarded and there will be an award ceremony at the congress. What’s a really nice add-on of this contest is, that the best 12 pictures will become a calendar for the IYC 2011. So if you have a camera and like to fotograph, go out an make your picture that proves: Everything is Chemistry!
The prize is organzed by the EYCN, the German Chemical Society’s JungChemikerForum and the GDCh section Chemistry and Economics.

See you in Nürnberg!

EYCA to be Awarded in Nürnberg

April 8, 2010 by

Hello to all,

we just got the information, that the European Young Chemists Award will be awarded in Nürnberg. Here’s what Prof. Dr. Bruno Pignataro writes about it:

On behalf of the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences, we are pleased to invite you to participate (or encourage your young collaborators to participate) to the competition for the European Young Chemist Award 2010 (third edition). The award is intended to showcase and recognise the excellent research being carried out by young scientists working in the chemical sciences and will be presented at the 3rd European Chemistry Congress in Nürnberg (Germany) from August 29 – Spetmeber 02 2010. Applicants must be less then 35 years old by 29 August 2010 and co-authors of an abstract submitted to the 3rd European Chemistry Congress. The complete application must be sent here by 05 May 2010, i.e. the deadline for the Abstracts submission to the 3rd European Chemistry Congress. The application includes the abstract, a curriculum vitae, copy of a personal document, a supporting letter from an expert and a brief description of the research featured in the abstract.
A panel of finalists will be selected on the basis of the evaluation of the Symposia Chairs. Finalists will compete talking about their research at a special session of the 3rd European Chemistry Congress. Finally, one Gold and two Silver Medals will be presented at a special Award Ceremony during the congress, in addition the winners will receive a remuneration. The medals and remunerations are kindly sponsored by the Italian Chemical Society.
Please find all the information about the award on the web site

So don’t waste any time and apply for that award – and don’t forget to check for grants of you local chemical society!

See you in Nürnberg!

Programme for 3rd EucheMS Chemistry Congress is now Online

March 26, 2010 by

Today, the programme for the 3rd EuCheMS Chemistry Congress was placed online.


The programme is split up into the single days of the congress and there you will find the main topics and the respective symposia held on that day. Right now, the final list with speakers isn’t available of course, as there are still 5 weeks to submit an abstract! If you havent’t already – think about it, and if you don’t want to present your work, just come to Nürnberg to enjoy a fantastic congress.

See you in Nürnberg this summer!

Cold fusion at the ACS Meeting

March 26, 2010 by

Even from Germany it was near impossible not to catch some of the buzz around this year’s ACS Meeting in San Francisco, especially because there wasn’t just the usual stuff going on. Announcing in advance that “Cold fusion moves closer to the mainstream” was bound to get some extra attention, since most people still consider researchers in this field as being of the underwear-as-headgear variety. Even its supporters tend to agree that this line of research attracts a number of such types.

On the other hand the field has been successfully rebranded as LENR – low energy nuclear reactions – and there is a whole bunch of topics investigated now aside from what Pons and Fleischman originally claimed, so it certainly looks a lot less crackpotty than it did in the early years. The current ringing endorsement by ACS helps, of course.
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Bucky-Ball Soccer or “the C60-Party!”

March 23, 2010 by

Hey there, finally I can present you the logo of the congress party. Here it is:

As most of you will already know, the party will take place in the easyCredit stadium (the former Frankenstaion, one of the wolrd championship 2006 venues). You will enter the stadium via the players entrance and besides drinks and dinner there will be a lot of entertainment, e.g. be part of the “Human Kicker”!!!

Dinner and drinks will be all inclusive, so you can have an unforgettable evening for 48 EUR (students) or 58 EUR (regular participants) respectively, which is really a fantastic deal.
So come to Nürnberg, join the conference, let’s party together and be part of… the special surprise at the end of the party!

See you in Nürnberg!

American Chemical Society joins the congress

March 19, 2010 by

Believe us or not: The world´s largest scientific organisation, the American Chemical Society, will participate actively on the Nürnberg congress. Have a look.

More information you can find on the ACS´ webpage, however these are the facts:
“With more than 161,000 members, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is the world’s largest scientific society and one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative scientific information. A nonprofit organization, chartered by Congress, ACS is at the forefront of the evolving worldwide chemical enterprise and the premier professional home for chemists, chemical engineers and related professions around the globe.”

We are happy to have them on board, leading to an overall international congress, with participants from all over the world. We are looking forward to having such a chemical congress at it´s best.