Chemistry World podcast - March 2014

Audio Files


0.40 – Our estimates of the amount of hydrogen in the interstellar medium could be out – by as much as a factor of two. That’s what French scientists think, after using a rocket-like reactor at just 11K to measure the formation of HF, which is used as a proxy for hydrogen by astronomers. Rocket reactor forces space hydrogen rethink

4.40 – Chemical reactions in tiny water droplets are much faster than we thought before – and the team at Imperial College London who made the discovery say this has implications for the chemical origins of life on earth. Life may have begun in a tiny water droplet

8.20 – Synthetic DNA strands have been made using click chemistry. Human cells were able to ‘read’ the strands of linked DNA, according to the chemists at the University of Southampton. Unnatural DNA links click for faster synthesis

11.10 – Some chemists are trying to improve on DNA’s well-known set of four base pairs. Floyd Romesberg of the Scripps Research Institute tells us about his work creating synthetic base pairs. On stranger nucleotides

17.10 – A battery that runs on sugar and holds double the energy of conventional lithium-ion batteries could be powering phones in a matter of years. The energy-dense bio-batteries, created by a group at Virginia Tech, are rechargeable and about the same size as an AA battery. Sweet success for bio-battery

21.00 – Seedlings of thale cress can reduce palladium salts and produce nanoparticles – which work as Suzuki cross-coupling catalysts. The University of York team hope that the method could be used to convert mining waste into useful products. Plants bear palladium catalyst fruit

22.50 – A phosphorus version of graphene – called phosphorene – has been made and shown to be a 2D semiconductor. It could be incorporated into standard semiconductor logic circuits and a team at Purdue University have already used as a field-effect transistor. Phosphorene discovery positively impacts 2D electronics

25.40 – Will smartphone revolutionise chemistry? Aydogan Ozcan from UCLA discusses his work turning them into microscopes. With a potentially powerful analytical tool in your pocket, anybody could be a citizen scientist. Science at your fingertips

32.50 – A crowdfunding-style funding model, where researchers give a portion of their basic grant to another scientist whose work they admire, could save time and money. It’s a controversial idea, but the Indiana University researchers who came up with it think it might fund riskier ideas. Funding sharing model would see grant proposals ditched

36.10 – Paper impregnated with dyes and that need just water for ink could be rewritable and re-usable. Four different oxazolidine give the colours necessary and the print can be erased by heating the paper. 'Waterjet' printer set to make a splash

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