Birth of a journal

March 19, 2010 by

Chemical Science is – or rather is going to be – a new chemistry journal published by the Royal Society. I’m not entirely sure why we need another general chemistry journal that no one can really read thoroughly anyway, but anyway, I registered for the newsletter and just got the news that the very first paper of the new journal just went online.

The reason why I mention this is that the author of this is well-known to readers of this blog: It’s Bert Meijer from the Eindhoven University of Technology, who will be in Nürnberg at EuCheMS 2010. He is this year’s plenary speaker at the supramolecular systems session and we already introduced him to you here.
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About Liquid Crystals, Helmut Ringsdorf and the Way of Thinking

March 15, 2010 by

My PhD-thesis is already a couple of years ago. However, last Wednesday, I was relegated to those days in the early nineties when I synthesized and characterized discotic liquid crystals in Mainz. Last Wednesday, my doctor father, Helmut Ringsdorf, got for the first time the newly designed Alfred-Saupe-Medal for his lifework about liquid crystals and self-organizing systems (by the way: you cannot get any information about this, even on the webpage of the German Liquid Crystal Society (DFKG), which created this award. So it is good to have this blog).
But this is not the point I would like to make. In his acceptance speech Helmut Ringsdorf mentioned again how important it is for scientists – yes to learn – but for the very young people not just to learn, to follow and to step into foot prints of the professors and teachers, but to find an own way of thinking and acting.
So, everybody, but especially the young ones: Let it flow, give space to your own creativity, create new ideas, go new ways – leave the stamped out scientific tracks.
The 3rd EuCheMS Chemistry Congress 2010 in Nürnberg is an excellent signal in this context.
Final advise for today: Do not forget to apply for a stipend for young scientist. GDCh will support young people in a – believe me – phantastic way. Guys from other countries. Ask your national societies. If you do not have contacts: do not hesitate to contact us.

Soft, wet and rather tough

March 13, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgHydrogels are the only materials that have the potential to be used as a replacement material for functional tissues like cartilage, sinews or muscles. However, while the biological wet and soft materials have impressive mechanical properties and are generally very tough, conventional hydrogels are rather brittle and tend to disintegrate under duress. With one exception, though: Double Network hydrogels can take a lot more force, even exceeding biological tissues or rubber. I just read a paper in Soft Matter that discusses why this is so. The mechanism is rather intriguing.
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Blowing molybdenum sulfide bubbles

March 6, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgThere has been a veritable hype around fullerenes and carbon nanotubes in recent years, so this modification of carbon has extensively researched. What’s a little less known, is that there are other, very similar structures, made of inorganic building blocks, usually transition metal chalcogenides. There is, however, a difference: In most of the inorganic fullerens (IF) there is no preferred minimal structure like C60.

The one notable exception appears to be MoS2, which forms regular octahedral of discrete sizes, which are about 4 times larger than C60. Calculations show that these octahedra are onion-like, made up of several layers and contain between 1000 and 80000 atoms. As with normal carbon fullerenes, there are several ways to obtain such structures, but their growth mechanism is largely unknown.

Well, what do you do if you don’t know the mechanism of a reaction? You try to catch the intermediates somehow. That’s what researchers from Mainz did with the formation of the MoS2-octahedra. It turns out that the shrink-wrap model of fullerene formation applies to this material as well: In the CVD chamber, large sheets form first, which later on contract into the well-known stable forms. To catch the intermediates, their formation needs to be accelerated, which was why iodine was used to increase solid-state diffusion. The result was rather interesting, because the iodine didn’t do just that.
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Piezoelectric fabric… again

February 27, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgThe latest edition of Nano Letters has yet another paper about some sort of piezoelectric fabric that generates electricity when deformed. In Theory, you could wear pants made from this stuff and power, say, your watch just by walking around. Admittedly this isn’t exactly novel. We heard about it already in 2003 (pdf), 2007 and in February last year (at least. I stopped searching after two minutes). Nevertheless, this paper is rather interesting because it moves away from basic materials design and tackles a question that’s closer to applications: How can devices like this be built into everyday clothes? Read the rest of this entry »

New Journal will be introduced in Nürnberg

February 22, 2010 by

Just a short note: Please cross your fingers, but the publishing house De Gruyter is planning to invite the participants for a special event to introduce the new journal BioMolecular Concepts.

This is strong support for multidisciplinarity, as you can read here by De Gruyter: “BioMolecular Concepts is a peer-reviewed, rapid-publishing journal fostering the integration of different fields of biology, including cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, epigenetics, neurosciences, and developmental biology. The journal publishes reviews, conceptual overviews and research papers on a wide range of topics. The reviews should cover the latest results in the corresponding research areas. The research articles should report novel results of broad significance, ranging from the role of single molecules to the organization of cellular networks and entire organisms.” More Information

How dangerous are these crystals, then?

February 21, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgRecently I came across a very interesting article on the website of the German magazine Der Spiegel, which informed me that the current way of storing highly radioactive waste was unsuitable, and the reason for this is chemical. Says there:

Now a US-German research group, in an Article in Angewandte Chemie, raises doubts about the basic principle of storage.

Except that they don’t. The paper is about certain actinide borates with rather complicated structures and interesting properties – basic research with a lot of crystallography. Creating the borate compounds was inspired by a method of storing nuclear waste – very active materials are melted into glass rods and enclosed in a steel container. Depending on the condition, some actinides form crystals within the glass. Not much is known about these crystals, except that they appear to be actinide borates.
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Interview with Prof. Hirsch at CHEManager

February 19, 2010 by

Surfing around, I found this interview with Prof. Francois Diederich, chaiman of the 3rd EuCheMS Chemistry Congress and his co-chairman Prof. Andreas Hirsch at the CHEManager homepage.

Unfortunately, it’s only in German, but I hope they’ll provide an English version as well (I will let you know…). Anyway, it’s interesting to read. The two chairmen again underline the importance of a single European voice for chemistry and EuCheMS as well as the biennial congresses are the best way to build up and strengthen a Pan-European Chemistry Network. And networks are very powerful, which can be seen best in situations like today, when all wolrd only sees the financial crisis. Who should be interested in supporting your actions if not your network. So if you haven’t the congress on your personal agenda already – get your big marker and schedule your participation! And by the way, Prof. Hirsch even mentioned the 10 travel grants of the JCF Frankfurt – though he just speaks of “jungchemikerforum” in general. I think I have to submit a comment at CHEManager…

See you in Nürnberg!

Surface reconstruction in platinum covered with CO

February 17, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgSurfaces are full of surprises, and of course mysteries. Ertl described the intricacies of ammonia formation on flat platin surfaces decades ago and won a Nobel for it, but what happens between real catalysts and the reactions they accelerate remains largely unknown. When it comes to the behavior of steps, kinks and other surface features under real conditions, we have hardly scratched the surface yet.

That is because usually surface interactions are observed by scientists, for practical reasons, in near vacuum and at low temperatures. Lots and lots of interesting things simply don’t happen in near vacuum at low temperatures. Nevertheless it turned out that even under these conditions adsorbates induced significant changes in surface morphology, especially on steps and other nonconformities. One should assume that the changes observed so far pale in comparison to what more extreme conditions will do to surfaces. As we read in this recent Science paper by Feng Tao et al, that is indeed the case.
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Go to Nürnberg and Win a Prize…

February 16, 2010 by

…could be one headline for this post. Well, now, as I caught your attention, I can tell you, that there’s a little catch:

You must match the requirements of either the European Young Chemists Award (EYCA) or the Reaxys PhD Prize. Don’t hesitate to submit your work to these – there’s always a winner, so why not you?
Besides these two, you can get a complete list of all prizes awarded in Nürnberg here.

See you in Nürnberg this summer.

Un-Official Framework Program in Nürnberg

February 9, 2010 by

It seems that there will be the science ship MS Wissenschaft as well as the science truck of the Fraunhofer Society in Nürnberg during the conference time (at least for some of the days).
Even as they aren’t part of the official program, it’s a very nice add-on for all participants and corroborates the importance of the congress. So while staying in the Franconian capital, consider visiting these two as well.

See you in Nürnberg!

We selected the right location

February 4, 2010 by

YES! The Metropolregion Nürnberg was selected as one of the top five most innovative clusters in Germany, in the sector of Medical Technology. Of course that is not chemistry. But you know: Nothing without innovative chemistry, success is always a question of multidisciplinarity.  More details? Please read the announcement of the German Goverment: “The excellence cluster competition is intended to take Germany to the top of the league of technologically advanced nations. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research launched the competition in the summer of 2007 under the slogan “Germany’s excellence clusters – more innovation, more growth, more employment”. The high-performance clusters formed by business and science that enter into strategic partnerships are set to boost Germany’s innovative strengths and economic success.” More information

Newsflash: GDCh will provide Travel Grants

February 4, 2010 by

Good News again!

The German Chemical Society GDCh, which organizes the 3rd EuCheMS Chemistry Congress on behalf of EuCheMS, will provide travel grants and scholarships for Nürnberg-participants. Here the German version can be found – an English one will follow soon. Unfortunately, a key requirement is that you’re working at a German institution. In case you’re from in foreign country, please ‘bother’ the respective national chemical society to provide grants as well.

Good luck and see you in Nürnberg!

Blog from the AAAS Annual Meeting and win $250

January 26, 2010 by

There is a rather interesting offer out for scientists interested in reaching out towards the general public. Science Magazine is opening its online coverage of the AAAS Annual Meeting 2010 for guest bloggers. So if you go to San Diego next month consider posting your impressions from the conference on the official blog. That is, if you have something substantial to say. Knowing the internet, Science makes it entirely clear what they don’t want:

Rants, cut-and-paste jobs from presentations you’re giving, or stenography. We don’t want a synopsis of the session you just attended or delivered, but rather its surprising, salient points spelled out for a lay audience.

This sounds like they really aren’t sure if they should do this. However, there will be a prize for the best blog entry, so it may be worth it.

Prizes will consist of: 1st place: The 1st Place Winner will receive $250; 2nd place: the Second Place Winner will receive a fully paid one-year subscription to Science Magazine; 3rd place: the Third Place Winner will receive a AAAS t-shirt in the style and color selected by Sponsor.

If I win, I want a black one. Of course I won’t win, because first, I’m not going and second, I’m not american. I find the second requirement somewhat puzzling, but on the whole the idea is a good one. I hope other journals and organisations follow this example.

The strange poison of the Platypus

January 20, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgThe duck-billed Platypus is such an odd creature that one could get the idea that its survival depends on potential predators laughing themselves to death, but in fact it can rely on a far more potent defense. It carries a venomous sting on its hind legs. Envenoming by a male Ornithorhynchus anatinus causes not only immediate excruciating pain, but also a long-lasting hypersensitivity, probably due to nerve damage.

The venom itself is a complex mixtures of peptides, for example defensin-like peptides similar to those found in venomous reptiles. Curiously those don’t go back to a common ancestor but evolved independently in both lines, as genomic analyses show. Another class of toxins consists of peptides related to C-type natriuretic peptides. CNPs are vasorelaxant peptide hormones that are widely distributed many tissues, notably the central nervous system.
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Newsflash: Travel Grants of JCF Frankfurt now open for application!

January 15, 2010 by

Good news to start the year!

After already announcing that the Young Chemists of Frankfurt were planning to provide travel grants for (PhD)students from Eastern Europe, I finally can tell you: Yes, they can – and did it!

At their homepage you’ll find a link (up right “Travel Grants” or in the menu “Stipendien”) that directs you to the application ‘frame’. There you’ll find all information how and where to apply for a JCF Frankfurt Grant. As a special service the guys at JCF provided the text not only in englich but also German (well, guess that was easy…), Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Croatian, Serbian and Bosian. (Anyone who wants to place a bet which languages will follow?!?).

So Good Luck! to all that will apply for a grant and
See you in Nürnberg!

Quantum Chemistry FTW!

January 14, 2010 by

ResearchBlogging.orgThere have been many new developments in quantum computing during the last few years, but last Sunday a paper appeared in Nature Chemistry that shows how far the area really has come. It seems that now things are getting really interesting: American and Australian scientists just built a quantum circuit that calculated the energy Eigenvalues of molecular hydrogen to an accuracy of 1 KJ/mol.

Of course we knew these Eigenvalues before, they can be calculated e.g. with DFT calculations. The amazing thing is the quantum circuit part. Quantum computers existed only in theory. Until now.
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Early Registration Deadline changed again – now to May 5, 2010

January 12, 2010 by

I just posted, that the deadlines for abstract submission were postponed to May 5, 2010 and that for early registration to May 14, 2010. Well, that’s not correct after all, as in the end the latter one was changed again to May 5, 2010 due to technical reasons.

See you in Nürnberg!

Deadlines Postponed!

January 7, 2010 by

Good news for all thinking about participating in 3rd EuCheMS Chemistry Congress:

The deadlines for abstract submission (oral and poster) have been postponed to May 5, 2010 (instead of March 3). Consequently, the early registration deadline was postponed as well and is now on May 14, 2010 (instead of April 30).

So you all have two months more to make the important finding in your research and still are able to present it adequately in Nürnberg on an international level. Hope we get many abstract to review!

See you in Nürnberg!

2010 – The year of Chemistry

January 4, 2010 by

Since the year 2000 the German ministry for research and education (BMBF) organizes the science years, with every year dedicated to another subject area. There was already a year of chemistry, in 2003, but 2010 promises to be at least in part about molecular sciences, since the topic this year is the future of energy. And there is a lot of chemistry in energy.
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Seasons Greetings!

December 23, 2009 by

Just as the title says:

The planning team of 3rd EuCheMS Chemistry Congress at the German Chemical Society wishes you

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Read you all again in 2010 and see you in Nürnberg!


Crystalline Christmas

December 17, 2009 by

Everyone knows the best christmas ornaments are those you made yourself – preferably together with other people. Of course from a chemist everyone expects a bit more than cut out stars to add sparkle to the holiday. In BEYONDbones, a blog created by the Houston Museum of Natural Science, I found a recipe that does just that.

First you need to get some pipe cleaners, Borax and some sort of open container. And hot water. The procedure is rather simple, I should think that most readers here did something like this before: Pour hot water into the container and create a saturated solution of borax. Bend the pipe cleaners into suitable shapes (stars, butterflies, buckminster fullerens) and insert them into the hot, saturated borax solution over night. The borax will crystallize on the pipe cleaner and form a cover of large, sparkly crystals. The borax is transparent, so you can also influence the color of your ornament by choosing colored pipe cleaners

This works with a number of other chemicals as well. If you can’t get borax, try sugar or sodium bicarbonate. If you have access to an inorganics lab you are spoilt for choice, of course. Let us know your favorite crystal-growing salt.

Smell the decay

December 12, 2009 by

ResearchBlogging.orgBeen to a library lately? Those of you who, like me, get their current literature via the internet, probably thoroughly repressed the memory of literature research without a search mask, but there are things that stay with you. Such as the smell of old books.

Turns out that there is more to this smell that meets the… uh… nose. It is the result of degradation and depends on the age of the book and the type of paper used.
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Thanksgiving Chemistry

December 9, 2009 by

Well, this one should have been online last week, obviously. But despite being a bit late, this movie should still be fun anyway. It deals with the chemistry behind the most american of all American holidays – Thanksgiving.

Some of it is of course somewhat alien to us Europeans, but it translates well: Even if I personally never encountered this particular pop-up-timer, I appreciate the ingenuity of the principle. Also, most of the experiments can be replicated at home, to the enjoyment of your little siblings. Bonus points if you can get your whole family to eat mashed paper towels. Have fun!

Thanksgiving and Chemistry: What’s the connection?

Still angry?

November 26, 2009 by

This year’s Nobel Prize for the Structure of the ribosome surely pissed a lot of people off. The debathe over whether the ribosome research counts as chemistry rages on, and the latest addition to the growing ranks of disgruntled chemists comes from an editorial of ACS Chemical Biology, where Eric Martens foretells that without a restructuring of the Nobel Prizes there will be even more biology in the Chemistry Nobels.

Now such a restructuring seems unlikely. The Nobel Foundation is strictly bound by Alfred Nobel’s original will that defined the Prizes to be awarded. Also, there’s always the possibility that such a restructuring would end up botched, damaging the Nobel Prizes forever. This is a very real danger, as this open letter shows. It proposes a new Prize for Global Environment and Public Health, an idea clearly inspired by climate change as the topic of the day. I think the idea is nuts. It should be some broad category like geosciences – who knows what will be considered important in 50 years?

So I think chemists should refrain from calling for new Nobels. It won’t work. There should be, however, a serious debate about the chemistry Prizes. The foundation can’t go on with awarding prizes to any research that involves molecules, on the basis that somehow everything has something to do with chemistry.