Category Archives: Chemistry

Hydronium and the Determination of pH


The hydronium cation, also known as hydroxonium is the positively charged polyatomic ion with the chemical formula H3O+. Hydronium, a type of oxonium ion, is formed by the protonation of water (H2O). This cation is often used to represent the nature of the proton in aqueous solution, where the proton is highly solvated (bound to a solvent). The reality is far more complicated, and a proton is bound to several molecules of water, such that other descriptions such as H5O2+, … Continue reading

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Proton flow battery advances hydrogen power

Researchers have developed a concept hydrogen battery based simply on storing protons produced by splitting water. The novel concept developed by researchers at RMIT University advances the potential for hydrogen to replace lithium as an energy source in battery-powered devices. The proton flow battery concept eliminates the need for the production, storage and recovery of hydrogen gas, which currently limit the efficiency of conventional hydrogen-based electrical energy storage systems. Lead researcher Associate Professor John Andrews, from RMIT’s School of Aerospace, Mechanical and … Continue reading

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New surface treatment stops scale buildup

Scale, as these deposits are known, causes inefficiencies, downtime, and maintenance issues. In the oil and gas industry, scale has sometimes led to the complete shutdown, at least temporarily, of operating wells. So addressing this problem could have a big payoff. Now a team of researchers at MIT has come up with a potential solution to this huge but little-recognized problem. A new kind of surface treatment—involving nanoscale texturing of the surface, which is then coated with a lubricating liquid—can … Continue reading

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Liquid crystal turns water droplets into ‘gemstones’

Liquid crystals are remarkable materials that combine the optical properties of crystalline solids with the flow properties of liquids, characteristics that come together to enable the displays found in most computer monitors, televisions and smartphones. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Swarthmore College describe new research into a type of liquid crystal that dissolves in water rather than avoids it as do the oily liquid crystals … Continue reading

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New salt compounds challenge the foundation of chemistry

All good research breaks new ground, but rarely does the research unearth truths that challenge the foundation of a science. That’s what Artem R. Oganov has done, and the professor of theoretical crystallography in the Department of Geosciences will have his work published in the Dec. 20, 2013 issue of the journal Science. The paper, titled “Unexpected stable stoichiometries of sodium chlorides,” documents his predictions about, and experiments in, compressing sodium chloride — rock salt — to form new compounds. … Continue reading

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Tsar’s Vodka and Gold

Experimenting with Aqua Regia again – this time because of a bottle acquired by Professor Poliakoff in Russia. With thanks to senior technician Neil Barnes, as always!

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Frederick Sanger


Thanks to Phil Krause for suggesting this post. Frederick Sanger (13/08/1918 – 19/11/2013) was a British biochemist who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry twice, one of only two people to have done so in the same category (the other is John Bardeen in Physics), the fourth person overall with two Nobel Prizes, and the third person overall with two Nobel Prizes in the sciences. In 1958, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in chemistry “for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin”. In 1980, Walter Gilbert and Sanger … Continue reading

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Stanene, conducts electricity at 100% effieciency

A single layer of tin atoms could be the world’s first material to conduct electricity with 100 percent efficiency at room temperature, a team of theoretical physicists led by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University said Thursday. When topological insulators are just one atom thick, their edges force electrons to move in defined lanes without any speed limit, said Shoucheng Zhang, team leader and a physics professor at Stanford and the Stanford Institute for … Continue reading

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Hot water freezes faster than cold – and now we know why


Many moons ago Deskarati asked the question ‘Why does hot water freeze quicker than cold‘. We never really got to the bottom of it. But now it looks like we might have an answer – Deskarati. Hot water seems to freeze faster than cold water, known as the Mpemba effect. The effect was named after the Tanzanian student who in 1963 noticed that hot ice cream mix freezes faster than a cold one.  The effect was first observed by Aristotle … Continue reading

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How the Alphon became an outdated concept


What’s an alphon? Nothing whatsoever. But at one time, they might have been the thing that provide the basic building block of all chemistry. Let’s look at the science that might have been. It’s the first half of the twentieth century. Mendeleev has just come out with a basic table of elements that looks like it might, one day, order all the possible known elements known to science. You want to improve it. How do you do that? If you’re … Continue reading

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New device harnesses sun and sewage to produce hydrogen fuel

A novel device that uses only sunlight and wastewater to produce hydrogen gas could provide a sustainable energy source while improving the efficiency of wastewater treatment. A research team led by Yat Li, associate professor of chemistry at the University of California, Santa Cruz, developed the solar-microbial device and reported their results in a paper published in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano. The hybrid device combines a microbial fuel cell (MFC) and a type of solar cell called … Continue reading

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Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel

chemistry nobel winners

Chemists used to create models of molecules using plastic balls and sticks. Today, the modelling is carried out in computers. In the 1970s, Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel laid the foundation for the powerful programs that are used to understand and predict chemical processes. Computer models mirroring real life have become crucial for most advances made in chemistry today. Chemical reactions occur at lightning speed. In a fraction of a millisecond, electrons jump from one atomic nucleus to … Continue reading

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Farewell B11


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Delicate oxidation can transform greenhouse gas into useful chemicals


Methane is the main component of natural gas, as well as a potent greenhouse gas whose levels in the atmosphere have been rising. In a new study, scientists have investigated a way to transform methane into more valuable and useful chemicals by partially oxidizing methane in a “delicate” way—that is, at low temperatures, low pressures, and by controlled means. This ability requires understanding how the catalytic activity of nanoparticles can be controlled and manipulated, which is currently a major challenge … Continue reading

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Researchers identify endocrine-disrupting chemical in bottled water

A team of researchers in Germany has identified an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) found in samples taken from commercial bottled water. In their paper published in PLoS ONE, the team describes the methods they used to isolate the EDC found in the water samples. EDCs (man-made compounds used in many plastics) have been found to interfere with hormonal systems in several types of organisms—particularly in reproductive and development activities. They have come to light as it has been determined that several … Continue reading

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World’s Thinnest Glass Made By Accident


Researchers accidentally discovered the world’s thinnest sheet of glass, just two atoms thick. Their chance finding — now immortalized in the 2014 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records, out this week — gives scientists a glimpse into the puzzling properties of glass, which behaves like both a solid and a liquid. Researchers at Cornell University and Germany’s University of Ulm were creating graphene, one of the thinnest and strongest materials in the world. Sheets of graphene are just one … Continue reading

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Colloidal gels

A great video showing the remarkable properties inherent to gelatin. Technically speaking, gelatin is neither a solid or a liquid — it’s a colloid gel. Meaning that it’s a liquid suspended in a matrix of solids. Colloidal gels have a very high elastic limit, which is the point were the solid stops bouncing back from a deformed shape without breaking. Via io9

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Chemical Weapons (Sarin Gas)

Here is an interesting video from the guys at Nottingham Uni discussing chemical weapons, including Sarin and Mustard Gas. Featuring professors Rob Stockman and Martyn Poliakoff. – Deskarati

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Periodic Table of Elements & Country of Discovery

periodic table countries

This Periodic Table by PhD student Jamie Gallagher, shows all the elements arranged by the country that discovered them.

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Physicists use element 115 to highlight a way for taking new superheavy elements’ fingerprints

An international team of researchers presents fresh evidence that confirms the existence of the superheavy chemical element 115. The experiment was conducted at the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research, an accelerator laboratory located in Darmstadt. Under the lead of physicists from Lund University in Sweden, the group, which included researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM), was able to present a way to directly identify new superheavy elements. Elements beyond atomic number … Continue reading

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