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  • richardmitnick 10:41 am on February 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , CH3CN and CH3C15N Titan’s atmosphere., Chemistry, Cosmic rays coming from outside the Solar System affect the chemical reactions involved in the formation of nitrogen-bearing organic molecules., , , , , Titan is attracting much interest because of its unique atmosphere with a number of organic molecules that form a pre-biotic environment., We suppose that galactic cosmic rays play an important role in the atmospheres of other solar system bodies.   

    From ALMA: “Galactic Cosmic Rays Affect Titan’s Atmosphere” 

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    18 February, 2020

    Valeria Foncea
    Education and Public Outreach Officer
    Joint ALMA Observatory Santiago – Chile
    Phone: +56 2 2467 6258
    Cell phone: +56 9 7587 1963
    Email: valeria.foncea@alma.cl

    Masaaki Hiramatsu
    Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
, Tokyo – Japan
    Phone: +81 422 34 3630
    Email: hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

    Bárbara Ferreira
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Phone: +49 89 3200 6670
    Email: pio@eso.org

    Iris Nijman
    Public Information Officer
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory Charlottesville, Virginia – USA
    Cell phone: +1 (434) 249 3423
    Email: alma-pr@nrao.edu

    Optical image of Titan taken by NASA Cassini spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

    NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft

    ALMA spectra of CH3CN and CH3C15N Titan’s atmosphere. Dotted vertical lines indicate the frequency of emission lines of two molecules predicted by a theoretical model. Credit: Iino et al. (The University of Tokyo.)

    Planetary scientists using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) revealed the secrets of the atmosphere of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. The team found a chemical footprint in Titan’s atmosphere indicating that cosmic rays coming from outside the Solar System affect the chemical reactions involved in the formation of nitrogen-bearing organic molecules.

    Cosmic rays produced by high-energy astrophysics sources (ASPERA collaboration – AStroParticle ERAnet)

    This is the first observational confirmation of such processes, and impacts the understanding of the intriguing environment of Titan.

    Titan is attracting much interest because of its unique atmosphere with a number of organic molecules that form a pre-biotic environment.

    Takahiro Iino, a scientist at the University of Tokyo, and his team used ALMA to reveal the chemical processes in Titan’s atmosphere. They found faint but firm signals of acetonitrile (CH3CN) and its rare isotopomer CH3C15N in the ALMA data.

    “We found that the abundance of 14N in acetonitrile is higher than those in other nitrogen bearing species such as HCN and HC3N,” says Iino. “It well matches the recent computer simulation of chemical processes with high energy cosmic rays.”

    There are two important players in the chemical processes of the atmosphere: ultraviolet (UV) light from the Sun and cosmic rays coming from outside the Solar System. In the upper stratosphere, UV light selectively destroys nitrogen molecules containing 15N because UV light with the specific wavelength that interacts with 14N14N is neutralized at that altitude due to the strong absorption. Thus, nitrogen-bearing species produced at that altitude tend to exhibit a high 15N abundance. On the other hand, cosmic rays penetrate deeper and interact with nitrogen molecules containing only 14N. As a result, there is a difference in the abundance of molecules with 14N and 15N. The team revealed that acetonitrile in the lower stratosphere is more abundant in 14N than those of other previously measured nitrogen-bearing molecules.

    “We suppose that galactic cosmic rays play an important role in the atmospheres of other solar system bodies,” says Hideo Sagawa, an associate professor at Kyoto Sangyo University and a member of the research team. “The process could be universal, so understanding the role of cosmic rays in Titan is crucial in overall planetary science.”

    Titan is one of the most popular objects in ALMA observations. The data obtained with ALMA needs to be calibrated to remove fluctuations due to variations of on-site weather and mechanical glitches. For referencing, the observatory staff often points the telescope at bright sources, such as Titan, from time to time in science observations. Therefore, a large amount of Titan data is stored in the ALMA Science Archive. Iino and his team have dug into the archive and re-analyzed the Titan data and found subtle fingerprints of very tiny amounts of CH3C15N.

    More information

    These observation results are published as T. Iino et al. in The Astrophysical Journal.

    The research team members are: Takahiro Iino (The University of Tokyo), Hideo Sagawa (Kyoto Sangyo University) and Takashi Tsukagoshi (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan).

    This research was supported by the JSPS KAKENHI (No. 17K14420 and 19K14782), the Telecommunication Advancement Foundation, and the Astrobiology Center, National Institutes of Natural Sciences.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan.

    ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

    NRAO Small
    ESO 50 Large

  • richardmitnick 12:13 pm on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Rice scientists simplify access to drug building block", , , Chemistry,   

    From Rice University: “Rice scientists simplify access to drug building block” 

    Rice U bloc

    From Rice University

    February 24, 2020
    Mike Williams

    László Kürti and team develop one-step process to make crucial precursor.

    In one pot, at room temperature, chemists at Rice University are able to make valuable pharmaceutical precursors they say could change the industry.

    The Rice group of chemist László Kürti introduced an inexpensive organic synthesis technique that catalyzes the transfer of nitrogen atoms to olefins, unsaturated organic compounds also known as alkenes.

    Exposed nitrogen atoms are critical to drug discovery. The Rice process combines nitrogen and hydrogen atoms in triangular aziridine products that are readily available to react with other agents.

    A Rice University method to produce aziridines, building blocks in drug design, makes the process far less expensive and more environmentally friendly than current methods that use metal catalysts. Courtesy of the Kürti Research Group.

    Most important, Kürti said, is that his lab’s organocatalytic aziridination process transfers nitrogen to olefins that haven’t already been modified, or functionalized.

    “These unactivated olefins are commodity chemicals, but very difficult to functionalize,” he said. “We are able to do that now with this chemistry under operationally simple and mild conditions.”

    Turning them into nitrogen-containing small molecules makes them far more useful, he said. “You can then convert them to more complex molecules,” he said. “These N-H aziridines are essential building blocks.”

    The lab detailed its new aziridination technique in Nature Catalysis.

    Kürti and his crew have been stepping toward this point for years, first eliminating expensive catalysts from the process of transferring nitrogen to arylmetals, and later taking enol ethers and transferring nitrogen to them to make amino ketones, a feedstock for the chemical industry.

    “The direct amination of enol ethers was a nice breakthrough because we didn’t need any catalyst,” he said. “The solvent was promoting the actual nitrogen-transfer process. Then we asked if we could replace the currently used precious metal catalysts with a small organic molecule at just a fraction of the cost to make aziridines.”

    The new study provides a definitive yes. “This has been a dream of ours for a long time,” Kürti said.

    Kürti and postdoctoral associate and co-author Zhe Zhou estimated the commercially available organic small molecule catalyst needed for the process is about 4,000 times less expensive than the rhodium-based catalysts in common use. They also make the process more sustainable.

    “Everybody thinks catalysis is the answer for our problems, and in many cases it’s true,” Kürti said. “In a difficult reaction, a small amount of catalyst will accelerate the process and save time and money.

    “But many people forget the cost of the catalyst, and whether it’s sustainable,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s become pretty clear that we’re using high-value catalysts that contain precious metals. The world supply is limited, and the prices of these metals are at best erratic.”

    The Rice process comes with one disadvantage, however. “It’s slower than the rhodium-catalyzed process,” Kürti said. “What we disclose here takes about six hours at room temperature, where the rhodium-catalyzed process, depending on the substrate, ranges between 10 minutes and a half hour.

    “You definitely give up a little bit there,” he said. “But six hours is tolerable if you’re making big batches. That’s what I hope people will recognize in the long run.”

    Kürti hopes to refine the process to control how the nitrogen attaches to the olefin and then, in turn, control the essential chirality, or handedness, of the product. The chirality of a drug is critical to how well it works, if at all.

    Until then, the current process could be of great interest to industry, he said.

    “Easier access to previously difficult-to-obtain precursors can actually influence the compound structures that chemists will make in the in the lab,” Kürti said. “Simple procedures that are straightforward to use tend to dominate in pharmaceutical drug development.”

    Former Rice postdoctoral researcher Qing-Qing Cheng, now a postdoctoral researcher at the Scripps Research Institute, is lead author of the paper. Co-authors include associate professor Xinhao Zhang and graduate student Heming Jiang of the Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School and Shenzhen Bay Laboratory; Rice lecturer Juha Siitonen; and Daniel Ess, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Brigham Young University. Kürti is an associate professor of chemistry at Rice.

    The National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Robert A. Welch Foundation, Shenzhen STIC and the Shenzhen San-Ming Project supported the research.

    See the full article here .


    Stem Education Coalition

    Rice U campus

    In his 1912 inaugural address, Rice University president Edgar Odell Lovett set forth an ambitious vision for a great research university in Houston, Texas; one dedicated to excellence across the range of human endeavor. With this bold beginning in mind, and with Rice’s centennial approaching, it is time to ask again what we aspire to in a dynamic and shrinking world in which education and the production of knowledge will play an even greater role. What shall our vision be for Rice as we prepare for its second century, and how ought we to advance over the next decade?

    This was the fundamental question posed in the Call to Conversation, a document released to the Rice community in summer 2005. The Call to Conversation asked us to reexamine many aspects of our enterprise, from our fundamental mission and aspirations to the manner in which we define and achieve excellence. It identified the pressures of a constantly changing and increasingly competitive landscape; it asked us to assess honestly Rice’s comparative strengths and weaknesses; and it called on us to define strategic priorities for the future, an effort that will be a focus of the next phase of this process.

  • richardmitnick 1:02 pm on February 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A chemist investigates how proteins assume their shape", , , Chemistry, Matt Shoulders, , Protein misfolding   

    From MIT News: “A chemist investigates how proteins assume their shape” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    February 23, 2020
    Anne Trafton

    Matt Shoulders. Images: Gretchen Ertl.

    Matt Shoulders hopes to shed light on diseases linked to flawed protein folding.

    When proteins are first made in our cells, they often exist as floppy chains until specialized cellular machinery helps them fold into the right shapes. Only after achieving this correct structure can most proteins perform their biological functions.

    Many diseases, including genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis and brittle bone disease, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, are linked to defects in this protein folding process. Matt Shoulders, a recently tenured associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, is trying to understand how protein folding happens in human cells and how it goes wrong, in hopes of finding ways to prevent diseases linked to protein misfolding.

    “In the human cell, there are tens of thousands of proteins. The vast majority of proteins must eventually attain some well-defined three-dimensional structure to carry out their functions,” Shoulders says. “Protein misfolding and protein aggregation happen a lot, even in healthy cells. My research group’s interest is in how cells get proteins folded into a functional conformation, in the right place and at the right time, so they can stay healthy.”

    In his lab at MIT, Shoulders uses a variety of techniques to study the “proteostasis network,” which comprises about a thousand components that cooperate to enable cells to maintain proteins in the right conformations.

    “Proteostasis is exceedingly important. If it breaks down, you get disease,” he says. “There’s this whole system in cells that helps client proteins get to the shapes they need to get to, and if folding fails the system responds to try and address the problem. If it can’t be solved, the network actively works to dispose of misfolded or aggregated client proteins.”

    Building new structures

    Growing up in the Appalachian Mountains, Shoulders was homeschooled by his mother, along with his five siblings. The family lived on a small farm near Blacksburg, Virginia, where his father was an accounting professor at Virginia Tech. Shoulders credits his grandfather, a chemistry professor at Ohio Northern University and Alice Lloyd College, with kindling his interest in chemistry.

    “My family had a policy that the kids helped clean up the kitchen after dinner. I hated doing it,” he recalls. “Fortunately for me, there was one exception: If we had company, and if you were in an adult conversation with the company, you could get out of cleaning the kitchen. So I spent many hours, starting at the age of 5 or 6, talking about chemistry with my grandfather after dinner.”

    Before starting college at nearby Virginia Tech, Shoulders spent a couple of years working as a carpenter.

    “That’s when I discovered that I really liked building things,” he says. “When I went to college I was thinking about fields to get into, and I realized chemistry was an opportunity to merge those two things that I had begun to find very exciting — building things but also thinking at the molecular level. A big part of what chemists do is make things that have never been made before, by connecting atoms in different ways.”

    As an undergraduate, Shoulders worked in the lab of chemistry professor Felicia Etzkorn, devising ways to synthesize complex new molecules, including stable peptides that mimic protein functions. In graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, he worked with Professor Ronald Raines, who is now on the faculty at MIT. At Wisconsin, Shoulders began to study protein biophysics, with a focus on the physical and chemical factors that control which structure a given protein adopts and how stable the structure is.

    For his graduate studies, Shoulders analyzed how proteins fold while in a solution in a test tube. Once he finished his PhD, he decided to delve into how proteins fold in their natural environment: living cells.

    “Experiments in test tubes are a great way to get some insight but, ultimately, we want to know how the biological system works,” Shoulders says. To that end, he went to the Scripps Research Institute to do a postdoc with professors Jeffery Kelly and Luke Wiseman, who study diseases caused by protein misfolding.

    Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are perhaps the best known protein misfolding disorders, but there are thousands of others, most of which affect smaller numbers of people. Kelly, Wiseman, and many others, including the late MIT biology professor Susan Lindquist, have shown that protein misfolding is linked to cellular signaling pathways involved in stress responses.

    “When protein folding goes awry, these signaling pathways recognize it and try to fix the problem. If they succeed, then all is well, but if they fail, that almost always leads to disease,” Shoulders says.

    Disrupted protein folding

    Since joining the MIT faculty in 2012, Shoulders and his students have developed a number of chemical and genetic techniques for first perturbing different aspects of the proteostasis network and then observing how protein folding is affected.

    In one major effort, Shoulders’ lab is exploring how cells fold collagen. Collagen, an important component of connective tissue, is the most abundant protein in the human body and, at more than 4,000 amino acids, is also quite large. There are as many as 50 different diseases linked to collagen misfolding, and most have no effective treatments, Shoulders says.

    Another major area of interest is the evolution of proteins, especially viral proteins. Shoulders and his group have shown that flu viruses’ rapid evolution depends in part on their ability to hijack some components of the proteostasis network of the host cells they infect. Without this help, flu viruses can’t adapt nearly as rapidly.

    In the long term, Shoulders hopes that his research will help to identify possible new ways to treat diseases that arise from aberrant protein folding. In theory, restoring the function of a single protein involved in folding could help with a variety of diseases linked to misfolding.

    “You might not need one drug for each disease — you might be able to develop one drug that treats many different diseases,” he says. “It’s a little speculative right now. We still need to learn much more about the basics of proteostasis network function, but there is a lot of promise.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Seal

    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

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  • richardmitnick 1:47 pm on February 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Otago physicists grab individual atoms in ground-breaking experiment", , Chemistry, , , , The experiment improves on current knowledge by offering a previously unseen view into the microscopic world surprising researchers with the results., The University of Otago, Trapping and cooling of three atoms to a temperature of about a millionth of a Kelvin using highly focused laser beams in a hyper-evacuated (vacuum) chamber.   

    From The University of Otago, NZ: “Otago physicists grab individual atoms in ground-breaking experiment” 


    From The University of Otago

    20 February 2020

    Associate Professor Mikkel Andersen
    Department of Physics
    University of Otago
    Tel +64 3 479 7805
    Email mikkel.andersen@otago.ac.nz

    Mark Hathaway
    Senior Communications Adviser
    University of Otago
    Mob +64 21 279 5016
    Email mark.hathaway@otago.ac.nz

    LASER-cooled atom cloud viewed through microscope camera.

    In a first for quantum physics, University of Otago researchers have “held” individual atoms in place and observed previously unseen complex atomic interactions.

    A myriad of equipment including lasers, mirrors, a vacuum chamber, and microscopes assembled in Otago’s Department of Physics, plus a lot of time, energy, and expertise, have provided the ingredients to investigate this quantum process, which until now was only understood through statistical averaging from experiments involving large numbers of atoms.

    The experiment improves on current knowledge by offering a previously unseen view into the microscopic world, surprising researchers with the results.

    “Our method involves the individual trapping and cooling of three atoms to a temperature of about a millionth of a Kelvin using highly focused laser beams in a hyper-evacuated (vacuum) chamber, around the size of a toaster. We slowly combine the traps containing the atoms to produce controlled interactions that we measure,” says Associate Professor Mikkel F. Andersen of Otago’s Department of Physics.

    Mikkel Andersen (left) and Marvin Weyland in the physics lab.

    When the three atoms approach each other, two form a molecule, and all receive a kick from the energy released in the process. A microscope camera allows the process to be magnified and viewed.

    “Two atoms alone can’t form a molecule, it takes at least three to do chemistry. Our work is the first time this basic process has been studied in isolation, and it turns out that it gave several surprising results that were not expected from previous measurement in large clouds of atoms,” says Postdoctoral Researcher Marvin Weyland, who spearheaded the experiment.

    For example, the researchers were able to see the exact outcome of individual processes, and observed a new process where two of the atoms leave the experiment together. Until now, this level of detail has been impossible to observe in experiments with many atoms.

    “By working at this molecular level, we now know more about how atoms collide and react with one another. With development, this technique could provide a way to build and control single molecules of particular chemicals,” Weyland adds.

    Associate Professor Andersen admits the technique and level of detail can be difficult to comprehend to those outside the world of quantum physics, however he believes the applications of this science will be useful in development of future quantum technologies that might impact society as much as earlier quantum technologies that enabled modern computers and the Internet.

    “Research on being able to build on a smaller and smaller scale has powered much of the technological development over the past decades. For example, it is the sole reason that today’s cellphones have more computing power than the supercomputers of the 1980s. Our research tries to pave the way for being able to build at the very smallest scale possible, namely the atomic scale, and I am thrilled to see how our discoveries will influence technological advancements in the future,” Associate Professor Andersen says.

    The experiment findings [Physical Review Letters] showed that it took much longer than expected to form a molecule compared with other experiments and theoretical calculations, which currently are insufficient to explain this phenomenon. While the researchers suggest mechanisms which may explain the discrepancy, they highlight a need for further theoretical developments in this area of experimental quantum mechanics.

    This completely New Zealand-based research was primarily carried out by members of the University of Otago’s Department of Physics, with assistance from theoretical physicists at Massey University.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Otago, founded in 1869 by an ordinance of the Otago Provincial Council, is New Zealand’s oldest university. The new University was given 100,000 acres of pastoral land as an endowment and authorised to grant degrees in Arts, Medicine, Law and Music.

    The University opened in July 1871 with a staff of just three Professors, one to teach Classics and English Language and Literature, another having responsibility for Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, and the third to cover Mental and Moral Philosophy and Political Economy. The following year a Professor of Natural Science joined the staff. With a further endowment provided in 1872, the syllabus was widened and new lectureships established: lectures in Law started in 1873, and in 1875 courses began in Medicine. Lectures in Mining were given from 1872, and in 1878 a School of Mines was established.

    The University was originally housed in a building (later the Stock Exchange) on the site of John Wickliffe House in Princes Street but it moved to its present site with the completion of the northern parts of the Clocktower and Geology buildings in 1878 and 1879.

    The School of Dentistry was founded in 1907 and the School of Home Science (later Consumer and Applied Sciences) in 1911. Teaching in Accountancy and Commerce subjects began in 1912. Various new chairs and lectureships were established in the years between the two world wars, and in 1946 teaching began in the Faculty of Theology. The School of Physical Education was opened in 1947.

    A federal University of New Zealand was established by statute in 1870 and became the examining and degree-granting body for all New Zealand university institutions until 1961. The University of Otago had conferred just one Bachelor of Arts degree, on Mr Alexander Watt Williamson, when in 1874 it became an affiliated college of the University of New Zealand.

    In 1961 the University of New Zealand was disestablished, and the power to confer degrees was restored to the University of Otago by the University of Otago Amendment Act 1961.

    Since 1961, when its roll was about 3,000, the University has expanded considerably (in 2016 there were over 20,000 students enrolled) and has broadened its range of qualifications to include undergraduate programmes in Surveying, Pharmacy, Medical Laboratory Science, Teacher Education, Physiotherapy, Applied Science, Dental Technology, Radiation Therapy, Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy (now combined in an Oral Health programme), Biomedical Sciences, Social Work, and Performing Arts, as well as specialised postgraduate programmes in a variety of disciplines.

    Although the University’s main campus is in Dunedin, it also has Health Sciences campuses in Christchurch (University of Otago, Christchurch) and Wellington (University of Otago, Wellington) (established in 1972 and 1977 respectively), an information and teaching centre in central Auckland (1996), and an information office in Wellington (2001).

    The Dunedin College of Education merged with the University on 1 January 2007, and this added a further campus in Invercargill.

  • richardmitnick 3:54 pm on February 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Keeping it simple—Synthesizing useful organic compounds now made easier and cheaper", , Chemistry, he Suzuki-Miyaura reaction, , The scientists knew that the process required a palladium catalyst.,   

    From Tokyo University of Science via phys.org: “Keeping it simple—Synthesizing useful organic compounds now made easier and cheaper” 

    From Tokyo University of Science

    Credit: CC0 Public Domain

    The Suzuki-Miyaura reaction is a well-known chemical process in which a reaction between organic boronic acids and aryl halides leads to the synthesis of “biaryl” compounds, which are important components of various drugs and chemical products. This is also called cross-coupling, as two aryl molecules are combined, or cross-coupled, in this process. Because the organic aromatic molecules—which are formed as a result of this reaction—have various applications, such as in solvents and drugs, finding a way of optimizing the existing cross-coupling reactions is crucial. This is why, in a new study published in ACS Catalysts, a team of scientists from Japan, including Junior Assoc Prof Yuichiro Mutoh and Prof Shinichi Saito of Tokyo University of Science, wanted to check if this reaction can be made more efficient.

    “Protected” organic boronic acid, which is an organic boronic acid with a ‘masking group,’ is frequently used as a precursor for boronic acid in the Suzuki-Miyaura reaction. Because the reactivity of the protected boronic acid is low, it does not take part in this reaction. Thus, the masking group needs to be removed for the reaction to proceed, which adds another step to the process. This made these scientists wonder: what if the masked molecules were directly used in the reaction? It would lead us to a much faster, cheaper technique!

    Prof Saito explains, “Because the removal of the masking group is necessary to provide the latent boronic acids that engage in subsequent Suzuki-Miyaura reactions, the direct use of the protected boronic acid in a Suzuki-Miyaura reaction would be highly desirable in terms number of steps and atom economy. This would help streamline the synthesis of complex molecules.” The only challenge was that until now, there was no known way to directly use protected boronic acids without removing the masking group first, and thus, the scientists set out to find ways to do this.

    The scientists knew that the process required a palladium catalyst (a molecule or compound that can speed up a reaction), a base, and two starting aryl molecules. They proceeded to check if the reaction takes place with a protected molecule. To begin with, they examined the impact of various bases on the reaction. They saw that when a particular potassium base, called KOτ-Bu, was used, it resulted in a high yield of products, and this effect as not seen with other bases. Then, they tested various palladium-based catalysts and saw that all catalysts produced a similar yield, indicating that common palladium-based catalyst systems can be used for the cross-coupling. This led them to conclude that the KOτ-Bu base played a crucial role if one was to use protected boronic acid directly.

    After over a dozen successful Suzuki-Miyaura reactions with high yield for different biaryl compounds, the team conducted ‘control’ experiments to check for other variables and to gain insight into the underlying mechanisms of the KOτ-Bu base. Specifically, they checked if the chemical species were present in the reaction mixture before the reaction was complete, which uncovered an intermediate compound involving the KOτ-Bu base and the boronic acid reagent. Using techniques like NMR spectroscopy and single-crystal X-ray diffraction analysis, the scientists confirmed that the key to the success of these cross-coupling reactions is the use of KOτ-Bu as the base, as it enables the formation of an active borate, essential for the reaction.

    The methodology discovered in this study provides insight into the Suzuki-Miyaura reaction and proposes a novel way in which the required steps to use protected boronic acids can be minimized. The entire process to obtain biaryl molecules was carried in one single pot, which is advantageous in terms of space and cost. Prof Saito concludes, “We developed a way for the reaction to be step- and pot-economic, features that have received considerable attention in recent years. Thus, this study opens up new possibilities for the use of protected boronic acids in various coupling reactions.”

    Owing to its novel findings, this study was even selected to be on the cover of the January 2020 issue of ACS Catalysis. These findings will hopefully help simplify the synthesis of important complex molecules, including pharmaceutical drugs, so that more people can benefit from advances in the chemical sciences.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Tokyo University of Science was founded in 1881 as The Tokyo Academy of Physics by 21 graduates of the Department of Physics in the Faculty of Science, University of Tokyo (then the Imperial University). In 1883, it was renamed the Tokyo College of Science, and in 1949, it attained university status and became the Tokyo University of Science. The leading character appearing in Japanese novelist Soseki Natsume’s novel Botchan graduated from Tokyo University of Science.

    As of 2016, it is the only private university in Japan that has produced a Nobel Prize winner and the only private university in Asia to produce Nobel Prize winners within the natural sciences field.

  • richardmitnick 3:10 pm on February 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Chemistry, , , , , , Shedding new light on the internal structure of atomic nuclei.   

    From KTH Royal Institute of Technology via phys.org: “Exotic atomic nuclei reveal traces of new form of superfluidity” 


    From KTH Royal Institute of Technology



    Published Feb 17, 2020
    David Callahan

    The team behind the discovery of the new form of superfluidity: from left, Bo Cederwall, professor of physics at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Xiaoyu Liu, Wei Zhang, Aysegül Ertoprak, Farnaz Ghazi Moradi and Özge Aktas.Published Feb 17, 2020

    Recent observations of the internal structure of the rare isotope ruthenium-88 shed new light on the internal structure of atomic nuclei, a breakthrough which could also lead to further insights into how some chemical elements in nature and their isotopes are formed.

    Led by Bo Cederwall, Professor of Experimental Nuclear Physics at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, an international research team identified new rotational states in the extremely neutron-deficient, deformed, atomic nucleus 88Ru. The results suggest that the structure of this exotic nuclear system is heavily influenced by the presence of strongly-coupled neutron-proton pairs.

    “Such a structure is fundamentally different from the normal conditions observed in atomic nuclei, where neutrons and protons interact in pairs in separate systems, forming a near-superfluid state,” Cederwall says.

    The results may also suggest alternative explanations for how the production of different chemical elements, and in particular their most neutron-poor isotopes, proceeds in the nucleosynthesis reactions in certain stellar environments such as neutron star-red giant binaries, he says.

    The discovery, which was published February 12 in the journal, Physical Review Letters, results from an experiment at the Grand Accélérateur National d’Ions Lourds (GANIL), France, using the Advanced Gamma Tracking Array (AGATA) [below].

    The researchers used nuclear collisions to create highly unstable atomic nuclei with equal numbers of neutrons and protons. Their structure was studied by using sensitive instruments, including AGATA, detecting the radiation they emit in the form of high-energy photons, neutrons, protons and other particles.

    The Advanced Gamma Tracking Array (AGATA), which researchers from KTH used to study unstable atomic nuclei generated at the Grand Accélérateur National d’Ions Lourds.

    According to the Standard Model of particle physics describing the elementary particles and their interactions, there are two general types of particles in nature; bosons and fermions, which have integer and half-integer spins, respectively. Examples of fermions are fundamental particles like the electron and the electron neutrino but also composite particles like the proton and the neutron and their fundamental building blocks, the quarks. Examples of bosons are the fundamental force carriers; the photon, the intermediate vector bosons, the gluons and the graviton.

    The properties of a system of particles differ considerably depending on whether it is based on fermions or bosons. As a result of the Pauli principle of quantum mechanics, in a system of fermions (such as an atomic nucleus) only one particle can hold a certain quantum state at a certain point in space and time. For several fermions to appear together, at least one property of each fermion, such as its spin, must be different. At low temperature systems of many fermions can exhibit condensates of paired particles manifested as superfluidity for uncharged particles (for example, the superfluid 3He), and superconductivity for charged particles, such as electrons in a superconductor below the critical temperature. Bosons, on the other hand, can condense individually with an unlimited number of particles in the same state, so-called Bose-Einstein condensates.

    In most atomic nuclei that are close to the line of beta stability and in their ground state, or excited to an energy not too high above it, the basic structure appears to be based on pair-correlated condensates of particles with the same isospin quantum number but with opposite spins. This means that neutrons and protons are paired separately from each other. These isovector pair correlations give rise to properties similar to superfluidity and superconductivity. In deformed nuclei, this structure is for example revealed as discontinuities in the rotational frequency when the rotational excitation energy of the nucleus is increased.

    Such discontinuities, which were discovered already in the early 1970s by KTH Professor emeritus Arne Johnson, have been labeled “backbending”. The backbending frequency is a measure of the energy required to break a neutron or proton pair and therefore also reflects the energy released by the formation of a pair of nucleons in the nucleus. There are long-standing theoretical predictions that systems of neutron-proton pairs can be mixed with, or even replace, the standard isovector pair correlations in exotic atomic nuclei with equal numbers of protons and neutrons. The nuclear structure resulting from the isoscalar component of such pair correlations is different from that found in “ordinary” atomic nuclei close to stability. Among different possible experimental observables, the backbending frequency in deformed nuclei is predicted to increase significantly compared with nuclei with different numbers of neutrons and protons.

    The KTH research group has previously observed evidence of strong neutron-proton correlations in the spherical nuclear nucleus 92Pd, which was published in the journal Nature (B. Cederwall et al., Nature, volume 469, p 68-71 (2011)). The ruthenium isotope 88Ru, with 44 neutrons and 44 protons, is deformed and exhibits a rotation-like structure that has now been observed up to higher spin, or rotational frequency, than previously possible. The new measurement provides a different angle on nuclear pair correlations compared with the previous work. By confirming the theoretical predictions of a shift towards higher backbending frequency it provides complementary evidence for the occurrence of strong isoscalar pair correlations in the heaviest nuclear systems with equal numbers of neutrons and protons.

    See the full article here .


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    About Science X in 100 words

    Science X™ is a leading web-based science, research and technology news service which covers a full range of topics. These include physics, earth science, medicine, nanotechnology, electronics, space, biology, chemistry, computer sciences, engineering, mathematics and other sciences and technologies. Launched in 2004 (Physorg.com), Science X’s readership has grown steadily to include 5 million scientists, researchers, and engineers every month. Science X publishes approximately 200 quality articles every day, offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of sci-tech developments world-wide. Science X community members enjoy access to many personalized features such as social networking, a personal home page set-up, article comments and ranking, the ability to save favorite articles, a daily newsletter, and other options.
    Mission 12 reasons for reading daily news on Science X Organization Key editors and writersinclude 1.75 million scientists, researchers, and engineers every month. Phys.org publishes approximately 100 quality articles every day, offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of sci-tech developments world-wide. Quancast 2009 includes Phys.org in its list of the Global Top 2,000 Websites. Phys.org community members enjoy access to many personalized features such as social networking, a personal home page set-up, RSS/XML feeds, article comments and ranking, the ability to save favorite articles, a daily newsletter, and other options.


    An innovative European technical university

    Since its founding in 1827, KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm has grown to become one of Europe’s leading technical and engineering universities, as well as a key centre of intellectual talent and innovation. We are Sweden’s largest technical research and learning institution and home to students, researchers and faculty from around the world dedicated to advancing knowledge.

  • richardmitnick 1:17 pm on February 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Scientists unlock low-cost material to shape light for industry", , Chemistry, Faraday rotators, , , Manipulate light in a range of devices across industry and science by altering a fundamental property of light – its polarization.,   

    From University of Sydney: “Scientists unlock low-cost material to shape light for industry” 

    U Sidney bloc

    From University of Sydney

    17 February 2020

    Marcus Strom
    Science Media Adviser
    Phone+ 61 2 8627 6433
    Mobile +61 423 982 485

    Perovskite crystals adapted for use as Faraday rotators.

    In the lab (from left): Dr Girish Lakhwani, Dr Stefano Bernardi and Dr Randy Sabatini. Photo: Stefanie Zingsheim/University of Sydney.

    Image above: The polarisation of transmitted light is rotated by a crystal immersed in a magnetic field (top). The perovskite crystal (bottom right) rotates light very effectively, due to the atomic configuration of its crystal structure (bottom left).

    Researchers in Australia have found a way to manipulate laser light at a fraction of the cost of current technology.

    The discovery, published in Advanced Science, could help drive down costs in industries as diverse as telecommunications, medical diagnostics and consumer optoelectronics.

    The research team, led by Dr Girish Lakhwani from the University of Sydney Nano Institute and School of Chemistry, has used inexpensive crystals, known as perovskites, to make Faraday rotators. These manipulate light in a range of devices across industry and science by altering a fundamental property of light – its polarisation. This gives scientists and engineers the ability to stabilise, block or steer light on demand.

    Faraday rotators are used at the source of broadband and other communication technologies, blocking reflected light that would otherwise destabilise lasers and amplifiers. They are used in optical switches and fibre-optic sensors as well.

    Dr Lakhwani said: “The global optical switches market alone is worth more than $US4.5 billion and is growing. The major competitive advantage perovskites have over current Faraday isolators is the low cost of material and ease of processing that would allow for scalability.”

    To date, the industry standard for Faraday rotators has been terbium-based garnets. Dr Lakhwani and colleagues at the Australian Research Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science have used lead-halide perovskites, which could prove a less expensive alternative.

    Dr Lakhwani said: “Development and uptake of our technology could be aided by the excellent positioning of Australia within the Asia-Pacific region, which is growing rapidly due to increasing investments in its high-speed communication infrastructure.”

    Adapting perovskites

    The lead-halide perovskites used by the Lakhwani group are a class of materials that have been gaining a lot of traction in the scientific community, thanks to a combination of excellent optical properties and low production costs.

    “Interest in perovskites really started with solar cells,” said Dr Randy Sabatini, a postdoctoral researcher leading the project in the Lakhwani group.

    “They are efficient and much less expensive than traditional silicon cells, which are made using a costly process known as the Czochralski or Cz method. Now, we’re looking at another application, Faraday rotation, where the commercial standards are also made using the Cz method. Just like in solar cells, it seems like perovskites might be able to compete here as well.”

    In this paper, the team shows that the performance of perovskites can rival that of commercial standards for certain colours within the visible spectrum.

    Collaboration is key

    “As part of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science (ACEx), we benefitted from the exchange of ideas through this high-calibre centre,” Dr Lakhwani said. Collaborators included the ACEx groups of Professor Udo Bach at Monash University and Dr Asaph Widmer-Cooper at Sydney, as well as the Professor Anita Ho-Baillie group at UNSW. Professor Ho-Baillie has since joined the University of Sydney as the inaugural John Hooke Chair of Nanoscience.

    “We’ve been looking into Faraday rotation for quite some time,” Dr Lakhwani said. “It’s very difficult to find solution-processed materials that rotate light polarisation effectively. Based on their structure, we were hoping that perovskites would be good, but they really surpassed our expectations.”

    Looking ahead, the search for other perovskite materials should be aided by modelling.

    “For most materials, the classical theory used to predict Faraday rotation performs very poorly,” said Dr Stefano Bernardi, a postdoctoral researcher in the Widmer-Cooper group at the University of Sydney. “However, for perovskites the agreement is surprisingly good, so we hope that this will allow us to create even better crystals.”

    The team has also performed thermal simulations to understand how a real device would function. However, there is still work to be done to make commercial application a reality.

    “We plan on continuing to improve the crystal transparency and growth reproducibility,” said Chwenhaw Liao, from UNSW. “However, we’re very happy with the initial progress and are optimistic for the future.”


    This work was supported by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Sidney campus

    University of Sydney
    Our founding principle as Australia’s first university was that we would be a modern and progressive institution. It’s an ideal we still hold dear today.

    When Charles William Wentworth proposed the idea of Australia’s first university in 1850, he imagined “the opportunity for the child of every class to become great and useful in the destinies of this country”.

    We’ve stayed true to that original value and purpose by promoting inclusion and diversity for the past 160 years.

    It’s the reason that, as early as 1881, we admitted women on an equal footing to male students. Oxford University didn’t follow suit until 30 years later, and Jesus College at Cambridge University did not begin admitting female students until 1974.

    It’s also why, from the very start, talented students of all backgrounds were given the chance to access further education through bursaries and scholarships.

    Today we offer hundreds of scholarships to support and encourage talented students, and a range of grants and bursaries to those who need a financial helping hand.

  • richardmitnick 10:53 am on February 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Edaphic Factors Are Important to Explain and Predict Impact of Climate Change on Species Distribution", , , Chemistry, , ,   

    From Chinese Academy of Sciences: “Edaphic Factors Are Important to Explain and Predict Impact of Climate Change on Species Distribution” 

    From Chinese Academy of Sciences

    Feb 14, 2020
    ZHANG Nannan

    Examples of habitats that support edaphic specialists (Image by Wikimedia Commons)

    The climate change crisis has resulted in an emphasis on the role of broad-scale climate in controlling species distributions. A key metric for predicting the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems is the local velocity of climate change: how fast a species must move across the landscape to track its preferred climate in space. However, other ecologically important environmental variables will move much more slowly (e.g., some soil properties) or not at all (e.g., underlying geology).

    In a review published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution, researchers from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) pointed out that the relative neglect of local edaphic factors risks weakening people’s ability to explain past responses to climate change and predict future ones.

    The researchers focused on some immovable environmental variables and specifically on the soil types with extreme chemical and/or physical properties that develop on regionally rare geological substrates, such as limestone karsts, ultramafic rocks, and granite inselbergs (i.e. isolated hills or mountains rising abruptly from a plain, like islands in the sea).

    By consulting a large amount of literature, the researchers found that in warmer regions of the world, the edaphic specialists (i.e. species of plants and animals in specific substrates) appear to have accumulated in situ over millions of years, persisting despite climate change by local movements, plastic responses, and genetic adaptation. However, past climates were usually cooler than today and rates of warming slower, while edaphic islands are now exposed to multiple additional threats, including mining.

    They further found that species distribution models used to predict climate change responses can include edaphic factors, but these are rarely mapped at a high enough spatial resolution.

    “Using low-resolution edaphic data for predictions is likely to give misleading results”, said Prof. Richard Corlett, principal investigator of the study.

    “We need to improve our understanding of the mechanistic basis for edaphic endemism, in order to predict the vulnerability of these endemics to climate change and other anthropogenic impacts. Reciprocal transplants and resource-addition experiments should be useful for this” said Prof. Richard Corlett.

    “We also need to improve the species distribution models used to predict climate change impacts”, added Dr. Corlett.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Chinese Academy of Sciences is the linchpin of China’s drive to explore and harness high technology and the natural sciences for the benefit of China and the world. Comprising a comprehensive research and development network, a merit-based learned society and a system of higher education, CAS brings together scientists and engineers from China and around the world to address both theoretical and applied problems using world-class scientific and management approaches.

    Since its founding, CAS has fulfilled multiple roles — as a national team and a locomotive driving national technological innovation, a pioneer in supporting nationwide S&T development, a think tank delivering S&T advice and a community for training young S&T talent.

    Now, as it responds to a nationwide call to put innovation at the heart of China’s development, CAS has further defined its development strategy by emphasizing greater reliance on democratic management, openness and talent in the promotion of innovative research. With the adoption of its Innovation 2020 programme in 2011, the academy has committed to delivering breakthrough science and technology, higher caliber talent and superior scientific advice. As part of the programme, CAS has also requested that each of its institutes define its “strategic niche” — based on an overall analysis of the scientific progress and trends in their own fields both in China and abroad — in order to deploy resources more efficiently and innovate more collectively.

    As it builds on its proud record, CAS aims for a bright future as one of the world’s top S&T research and development organizations.

  • richardmitnick 11:27 am on February 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: (DIC)-Dissolved Inorganic Carbon, (TA)-Total Alkalinity, , , Chemistry, , , , , The wet lab then becomes a bedlam of buckets containing rocks; corals; sponges; and shell fragments; occasional deep sea litter; and an assortment of marine creatures that I have never seen before., You need to know how to tie knots.   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute: “Darling it’s better, Down in a Wet(ter) Lab at Sea” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    Jill Brouwer

    Cruise Log: The Great Australian Deep-Sea Coral and Canyon Adventure

    Trying to understand a constantly moving ocean system is a huge challenge. Accurately measuring the chemistry of the ocean is important for understanding many processes, including nutrient and carbon cycling; ocean circulation and movement of water masses; as well as ocean acidification and climate change. On this expedition, the water chemistry team has the important job of analyzing the seawater in three canyon systems. We are measuring Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) and Total Alkalinity (TA) on board, while also saving samples for later analysis of stable isotopes, trace elements, and nutrients.

    Jill and Carlin using the CTD rosette to collect water samples from the depths of the Bremer Canyon.

    Knotty and Nice

    There are some quirks of successfully doing chemistry at sea that I definitely did not consider before this voyage. Firstly, you need to know how to tie knots. Making sure all the instruments, reagent bottles, and yourselves are secured is just as important as doing the actual chemistry. The precious sample counts for nothing if it flies across the room because you forgot to put it on a non-slip mat. The movement of the boat transforms normal lab activities into fun mini challenges – opening oven or fridge doors as the ship moves with the weather, pipetting as you hit a large wave, storing sample vials in a giant freezer. It is weird (but comforting) to see our analytical instruments strapped to the bench, and doing most of my work out of a sink – the safest place to keep samples. I particularly enjoy the arts and crafts component that comes with bubble wrapping and storing samples to prevent them from being damaged by sudden movements.

    After the chemistry work is done for the day, ROV SuBastian [below] comes aboard with all kinds of creepy-crawlies from the deep sea. All the biology and geology samples that have been collected from the dive are carried into the wet lab to be sorted, processed, and archived. The lab then becomes a bedlam of buckets containing rocks, corals, sponges, shell fragments, occasional deep sea litter, and an assortment of marine creatures that I have never seen before. Surrounding these specimens is an eclectic mix of scientists who all bring their own unique interests and passions to the group.


    To name a few; Julie, Paolo, and their team are interested in finding calcifying corals for their paleoceanography studies. They study the chemistry of the ocean thousands of years ago, recorded by coral skeletons when they were formed. We also have Andrew from the Western Australian Museum, who is doing his PhD on specialized barnacles that live in sponges, but is interested in pretty much everything. It is not just the big things we are looking for either. Aleksey and Netra are on the lookout for tiny single-cell organisms called Foraminifera that we have found in the water column, sediments, and attached to things like corals and whale bones.

    Netra, Jill, and Angela investigating the latest samples to arrive in the wet lab of R/V Falkor.

    This Stephanocyanthus is a soft cup coral.

    This Caryophylliidae is from a family of stony corals.

    Working in a wet lab at sea has its share of challenges, but considering the important scientific discoveries that are facilitated by us being out here, the cool (and in some cases totally new) marine life we are encountering, as well as the incredible views of sun glint and waves through the lab window, I would not choose to be anywhere else. To all the undergraduate students reading this, I encourage you to seek out as much volunteer/work experience as you can. Getting involved in science firsthand is an invaluable experience: you get to work with incredible people, gain useful skills, and learn so much more about yourself and your areas of interest than you can from the classroom. Perhaps most importantly, you get to share all the exciting things you learn with others!


    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Our Vision
    The world’s oceans understood through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.

    Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor

    Schmidt Ocean Institute ROV Subastian

    Schmidt Ocean Institute is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.

    Since the Earth’s oceans are a critically endangered and least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

    Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator, to support oceanographic research and technology development focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological, and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of our Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

  • richardmitnick 3:00 pm on February 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Underestimated chemical diversity", , Chemistry, China alone accounts for 37 percent of turnover., , Some 350000 different substances are produced and traded around the world., This comprehensive list of 350000 different substancescannot provide information about which chemicals are hazardous to health or the environment.   

    From ETH Zürich: “Underestimated chemical diversity” 

    ETH Zurich bloc

    From ETH Zürich

    Ori Schipper

    An international team of researchers has conducted a global review of all registered industrial chemicals: some 350,000 different substances are produced and traded around the world – well in excess of the 100,000 reached in previous estimates. For about a third of these substances, there is a lack of publicly accessible information.

    There are an ever-​greater number of industrial chemicals on the world market, but many lack publicly available information on aspects such as their chemical identities and hazard potential. (Photograph: fotohunter/iStock)

    The last time a list was compiled of all the chemicals available on the market and in circulation worldwide, it ran to 100,000 entries. Drawn up shortly after the turn of the millennium, the list focused on markets in the US, Canada and western Europe, which made sense because 20 years ago, these countries accounted for more than two thirds of worldwide chemical sales.

    Global market

    Things have changed dramatically since then. First, turnover has more than doubled, reaching EUR 3.4 billion in 2017; second, the global west now participates in just a third of the worldwide chemical trade, whereas China alone accounts for 37 percent of turnover. “We broadened our scope to take in the global market – and we’re now presenting a first comprehensive overview of all chemicals available worldwide,” says Zhanyun Wang, Senior Scientist at the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at ETH Zürich.

    Working with a team of international experts, Wang brought together data from 22 registers covering 19 countries and regions (including the EU). The new list contains 350,000 entries. “The chemical diversity we know now is three times greater than 20 years ago,” says Wang. This, he says, is primarily because a larger number of registers are now taken into account: “As a result, our new list includes many chemicals that are registered in developing and transition countries, which are often with limited oversight.”

    Confidential business information

    On its own, this comprehensive list cannot provide information about which chemicals are hazardous to health or the environment, for example. “Our inventory is only the first step in the substances’ characterisation,” says Wang, adding that previous work suggested that some 3 percent of all chemicals may give cause for concern. If you apply this figure to the new multitude of chemicals, 6,000 new potentially problematic substances could be expected, he says.

    Far more astonishing for Wang was the fact that a good third of all chemicals have inadequate descriptions in the various registers. About 70,000 entries are for mixtures and polymers (such as petroleum resin), with no details provided about the individual components. Another 50,000 entries relate to chemicals where the identities are considered confidential business information and are therefore not publicly accessible. “Only the manufacturers know what they are and how dangerous or toxic they are,” says Wang. “That leaves you with an uneasy feeling – like a meal where you’re told that it’s well cooked, but not what it contains.”

    An urgent call for international collaboration

    Globalisation and worldwide trade ensure that – unlike national registers – chemicals do not stop at national borders. As Wang and his colleagues note in their article in the journal Environmental Science & Technology the various registers need therefore to be merged if we want to keep track of all the chemicals that are produced and traded anywhere in the world. “Only by joining forces, across different countries and disciplines, will we be able to cope with this ever-​expanding chemical diversity,” says Wang.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ETH Zurich campus
    ETH Zürich is one of the leading international universities for technology and the natural sciences. It is well known for its excellent education, ground-breaking fundamental research and for implementing its results directly into practice.

    Founded in 1855, ETH Zürich today has more than 18,500 students from over 110 countries, including 4,000 doctoral students. To researchers, it offers an inspiring working environment, to students, a comprehensive education.

    Twenty-one Nobel Laureates have studied, taught or conducted research at ETH Zürich, underlining the excellent reputation of the university.

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