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Highlights in Chemical Science

News from across RSC Publishing.

Issue 11

Progress in artificial photosynthesis

Japanese researchers have developed a model that mimics photosynthesis, the process by which biological systems convert energy from sunlight into chemical energy. To successfully mimic the process, the scientists had to devise light-harvesting, charge-separation and -diffusion, and accumulation functions which are the three key aspects of natural photosynthesis. They did this by assembling a thin film with each different layer performing a specific function. This strategy is an important step forward in the design of biomimetic photosynthesis systems. 

Measuring molecules in the heart

American scientists have measured NO production from pulmonary artery endothelial cells immobilized in a microchip channel. Dana Spence from Wayne State University, Detroit, and co-workers at Saint Louis University, immobilised cells in microchannels coated with fibronectin and then resealed them over micromolded carbon ink electrodes. The system was used to measure the cells' production of NO when adenosine triphosphate (ATP) was added, and should help to clarify the roles of NO and ATP in controlling vascular dimensions. 

Cool deposition

Using high-throughput combinatorial synthesis, researchers at the University of Minnesota, US, led by Wayne Gladfelter have developed a new process for depositing amorphous films. The process developed gives remarkably high rates of deposition at temperatures as low as 130C. These films composed of HfO2 or ZrO2 and SiO2 are important in the search for materials with high dielectric constants, and as alternatives to SiO2 for use as gate dielectrics in field effect transistors. 

Contacting an organic friend

A team of researchers, led by David Cahen, at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, has developed a method of creating electrical contacts using palladium on organic molecules. The advanced method, called indirect, collision-induced, cooled electron beam evaporation, applied to an organic film deposits palladium with little damage to the film itself. This advance furthers technology towards producing reliable metal/molecule/metal devices using monolayers, which still remains a considerable challenge to chemists. 

Essential Elements

Crystal engineering networks

The RSC has launched a new website for crystal engineers.

In the shade?

A new intelligent coating for windows.

Crystal engineering networks

New books.

Research Highlights

Rectifying a problem in nano-electronics

Molecular diodes bring single molecule devices a little closer.

Forensic fingerprinting

Stable isotope mass spectrometry is linking batches of materials used in crimes.

Chemistry with its head in the clouds

Evaporation and condensation kinetics of ice clarify confusing observations.

Silver bug-beaters come out of the dark

Light sensitivity is no longer a problem for studying anti-microbial silver.

Red blood, yellow skin, blue light

Newborns are unable to process bilirubin, which causes jaundice that is treated by exposure to blue and white light.

Double or quadruple? With DNA it makes a difference

A potential new generation of anti-cancer agents is on the horizon, if different DNA forms can be unravelled using new technology.

Targeting disease

Researchers in Denmark and India have prepared synthetic DNA analogues known as oligonucleotides that have the potential for use as antisense drugs.

Gene clones can lower cholesterol

Part of a natural compound that can lower cholesterol has been made by cloning a fungal gene.

Microwave materials

Chemists at the University of Munich, Germany, have made a new porous material that can be dehydrated with no structural effects.

Chemistry to the rescue

Chemistry gets a bad press for creating 'nasty' molecules, such as chemical warfare agents, or pesticides.

Illuminating light-receptors in plants

The mystery about plants' internal 'light switches' is slowly being unravelled, thanks to theoretical chemists in Sweden.