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Ultrafast electron dynamics in space and time
Often depicted as colourful balloons or clouds, electron orbitals provide information on the whereabouts of electrons in molecules, a bit like fuzzy snapshots. In order to understand the exchange of electrons in chemical reactions, it is not only important to know their spatial distribution but also their motion in time. Scientists from Julich, Marburg, and Graz have now made huge progress in this direction: They successfully recorded orbital images with an extremely high temporal resolution. (2021-02-18)

Scientists able to see how potential cancer treatment reacts in single cell
Using a 185 metre beamline at the Diamond synchrotron, researchers could see how Osmium, a rare precious metal that could be used for cancer treatments, reacts in a single human lung cancer cell. This is a major step forward in discovering new anti-cancer drugs for researchers at the University of Warwick. (2021-02-17)

Quickly identify high-performance multi-element catalysts
Catalysts consisting of at least five chemical elements could be the key to overcoming previous limitations in the production of green hydrogen, fuel cells, batteries or CO2 reduction. However, finding the optimal composition of these multi-element catalysts is like looking for a needle in a haystack: testing thousands to millions of possible combinations cannot be realized. (2021-02-17)

The water surface is a fantastic place for chemical reactions
Using an advanced technique, scientists from the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research have demonstrated that a chemical reaction powered by light takes place ten thousand times faster at the air-water interface--what we usually call the water surface--than in the bulk of the water, even when the light has equivalent energy. This finding could help our understanding of the many important chemical and biological processes that take place at the water surface. (2021-02-15)

Flowers of St. John's Wort serve as green catalyst
An interdisciplinary team of scientists from the School of Science at TU Dresden has for the first time used dried flowers of St. John's Wort (genus Hypericum) as an active catalyst in various photochemical reactions. This conceptually new and sustainable process was registered as a German patent and presented in the journal 'Green Chemistry'. (2021-02-12)

Combination of pine scent and ozone as super source of particulate emissions
Scientists have managed to figure out why conifer forests produce so many fine particles into the atmosphere. Aerosol particles are particularly abundant when ?-pinene, the molecule responsible for the characteristic pattern of pine trees reacts with atmospheric ozone. (2021-02-11)

Metabolism: Researchers first to shed light on structure of huge enzyme complex
A new method has enabled the natural structure of particularly large and complex enzymes to be revealed. Scientists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and TU Berlin have published their findings in the journal Cell Reports. They investigated a multi-enzyme complex that plays an essential role in metabolism and have discovered that it functions differently than previously thought. This will help scientists better understand certain diseases. (2021-02-10)

Peanut allergy affects even more U.S. adults than children
Peanut allergy affects at least 4.5 million adults in the U.S., many of whom report developing their first allergy symptoms during adulthood. Although three out of four Americans with peanut allergy are over 17 years old, peanut allergy is often considered a predominantly pediatric concern. There are currently no FDA-approved therapies for patients with adult-onset food allergy. (2021-02-09)

Researchers identify a new molecular mechanism related to severe anaphylaxis
In a study led by researchers of the University of Barcelona and IDIBAPS, researchers analyzed the mutation of a gen detected in a patient who suffered from recurrent anaphylactic shocks caused by the allergy to paper wasp venom (Polistes dominula). The results, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, revealed a new molecular mechanism that can control the degree of severity in an anaphylactic reaction. (2021-02-09)

Understanding catalytic couplings: not all synergies are simple
Negishi cross-coupling reactions have been widely used to form C-C bonds since the 1970s and are often perceived as the result of two metals (i.e zinc and palladium/nickel) working in synergy. Researchers from the Martin group at ICIQ have delved into the Negishi cross-coupling of aryl esters using nickel catalysis to understand how this reaction works at the molecular level and how to improve it. The results have been published in Nature Catalysis. (2021-02-08)

Mast cells: Sentinels and high-speed messengers of the immune defense
A team of scientists at the Institute for Molecular and Clinical Immunology at the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg unravels a crucial mechanism of cell-cell-communication during the defense against pathogens. (2021-02-04)

A single-molecule guide to understanding chemical reactions better
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) report measurement of electrical conductivity of single DNA molecules as a way of monitoring the formation of double-stranded DNA on a gold surface. In their latest paper, they investigate the time evolution of the reaction and report findings not observed previously, demonstrating the suitability of the single-molecule approach in elucidating reaction pathways and exploring novel chemical processes. (2021-02-04)

Mysterious organic scum boosts chemical reaction efficiency, may reduce chemical waste
Chemical manufacturers frequently use toxic solvents such as alcohols and benzene to make products like pharmaceuticals and plastics. Researchers are examining a previously overlooked and misunderstood phenomenon in the chemical reactions used to make these products. This discovery brings a new fundamental understanding of catalytic chemistry and a steppingstone to practical applications that could someday make chemical manufacturing less wasteful and more environmentally sound. (2021-02-04)

Extreme UV laser shows generation of atmospheric pollutant
Hokkaido University scientists show that under laboratory conditions, ultraviolet light reacts with nitrophenol to produce smog-generating nitrous acid. (2021-02-02)

Well connected through amides
Linking molecular components through amide bonds is one of the most important reactions in research and the chemical industry. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, scientists have now introduced a new type of reaction for making amide bonds. Called an ASHA ligation, this reaction is fast, efficient, works under mild aqueous conditions, and is broadly applicable. (2021-01-27)

Bioorthogonally catalyzed lethality strategy generates targeting drugs within tumor
Selectively killing tumor while not causing damage to normal cells still remains a challenge in cancer chemotherapy. Professor Hongke Liu from Nanjing Normal University together with Professor Jing Zhao and Professor Zijian Guo from Nanjing University developed a novel strategy---bioorthogonally-catalyzed lethality to generate efficient anticancer species between two non-toxic components only within cancer cells and tumors without external catalysts, realizing the precise and efficient anticancer chemotherapy. (2021-01-25)

Boosting the efficiency of carbon capture and conversion systems
Researchers at MIT have developed a method to boost the performance of carbon capture systems that use catalytic surfaces to enhance the rates of carbon-sequestering electrochemical reactions. (2021-01-25)

Immunology - Functionality of immune cells in early life
A study by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich researchers shows that putatively immature dendritic cells found in young children are able to induce robust immune responses. The results could lead to improved vaccination protocols. (2021-01-21)

Decoding breast milk to make better baby formula (video)
What makes breast milk so good for babies? In this episode of Reactions, our host, Sam, chats with chemist Steven Townsend, Ph.D., who's trying to figure out which sugar molecules in breast milk make it so unique and difficult to mimic. (2021-01-19)

Controlling chemical catalysts with sculpted light
Using state-of-the-art fabrication and imaging, researchers watched the consequences of adding sculpted light to a catalyst during a chemical transformation. This work could inform more efficient -- and potentially new -- forms of catalysis. (2021-01-15)

Allergists offer reassurance regarding potential allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines
Reports of possible allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines have raised public concern; however, allergists note that allergic reactions to vaccines are rare, and COVID-19 vaccine allergic reactions will have a similarly low rate of occurrence. Individuals with a history of anaphylaxis to an injectable drug or vaccine containing polyethylene glycol or polysorbate should speak with an allergist before getting vaccinated, but patients with severe allergies to foods, oral drugs, latex or venom can safely receive the COVID-19 vaccines. (2020-12-31)

Novel public-private partnership facilitates development of fusion energy
PPPL working in coordination with MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center and Commonwealth Fusion Systems to develop a unique tokamak fusion device called ''SPARC.'' (2020-12-30)

New catalytic approach to accessing key intermediate carbocation
This study revealed the development of a novel iridium based catalyst. The catalyst is capable of accessing the carbocation intermediates of the reaction to achieve an unprecedented level of regioselectivity (>95%) and enantioselectivity (98%). This technology will have far-reaching implications in synthetic, organic, and pharmaceutical chemistry. (2020-12-21)

Inverted fluorescence
Fluorescence usually entails the conversion of light at shorter wavelengths to light at longer wavelengths. Scientists have now discovered a chromophore system that goes the other way around. When excited by visible light, the fluorescent dyes emit light in the ultraviolet region. According to the study published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, such light upconversion systems could boost the light-dependent reactions for which efficiency is important, such as solar-powered water splitting. (2020-12-18)

Will it kombucha? (video)
Kombucha is a bubbly, fermented tea that has gained popularity in the health and wellness scene over the last decade -- but what is it exactly? This week, the Reactions team breaks down kombucha's chemistry and investigates which ordinary beverages they can turn into kombucha. (2020-12-17)

Scientists discover compounds that could have helped to start life on Earth
Scientists from St Petersburg University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have discovered natural cyclophosphates. These are possible precursors of phosphorus-containing molecules that are believed to have contributed to the emergence of primordial life on Earth. Cyclophosphates could have been formed billions of years ago in regions of elevated geothermal activity or during meteorite bombardments of the Earth. (2020-12-14)

Chemists from RUDN University synthesized chitin-based antibiotics
?hemists from RUDN University discovered previously unknown derivatives of chitin, a biopolymer that forms the exoskeletons of insects and carapaces of crayfish and other arthropods. The new compounds and their nanoparticles have antibacterial properties and are able to catalyze chemical reactions. (2020-12-14)

Chemists from RUDN University used crab shells to improve palladium catalysts
?hemists from RUDN University synthesized soluble biopolymers based on chitin from crab shells. Together with palladium, they form effective catalysts for organic reactions, and their nanoparticles can be re-used over ten times. (2020-12-14)

Data-driven discovery of biomarkers pave way for improved diagnosis of contact allergy
With the help of algorithms, researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have identified markers that can differentiate between irritant eczema and contact allergy, two skin reactions that look similar but require different treatment. Their findings, which are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), support the further development of an alternative to today's diagnostic patch tests. (2020-12-14)

Tiny bubbles on electrodes key to speeding up chemical processes
New Curtin University-led research has shown the formation of bubbles on electrodes, usually thought to be a hindrance, can be beneficial, with deliberately added bubbles, or oil droplets, able to accelerate processes such as the removal of pollutants such as hydrocarbons from contaminated water and the production of chlorine. (2020-12-10)

A molecule like a nanobattery
How do molecular catalysts function, and what effects do they have? A team of chemical scientists at the University of Oldenburg has come closer to the answers using a model molecule that functions like a molecular nanobattery. It consists of several titanium centres linked to each other by a single layer of interconnected carbon and nitrogen atoms. The researchers' recently published findings combine the results of three multi-year PhD research projects. (2020-12-08)

A study predicts smooth interaction between humans and robots
According to a new study by Tampere University in Finland, making eye contact with a robot may have the same effect on people as eye contact with another person. The results predict that interaction between humans and humanoid robots will be surprisingly smooth. (2020-12-07)

RUDN University chemists synthesized new fluorescent substances for medical applications
Indolizines are a group of substances with biological and optical properties. A team of chemists from RUDN University developed a new approach to the synthesis of indolizines using pyridinium salts and enamiones. The new substances turned out to be able to emit light in the green range which can be useful for medical applications. (2020-12-04)

Common pipe alloy can form cancer-causing chemical in drinking water
Rusted iron pipes can react with residual disinfectants in drinking water distribution systems to produce carcinogenic hexavalent chromium in drinking water, reports a study by engineers at UC Riverside. (2020-12-03)

Peanut treatment lowers risk of severe allergic reactions in preschoolers
This study is the first to demonstrate that exposing children to a small, regular dose of an allergen (in this case, peanuts) in a real-world setting (outside of a clinical trial) is effective in reducing the risk of allergic reactions. (2020-12-03)

Hidden network of enzymes accounts for loss of brain synapses in Alzheimer's
A new study on Alzheimer's disease by Scripps Research scientists has revealed a previously unknown biochemical cascade in the brain that leads to the destruction of synapses, the connections between nerve cells that are responsible for memory and cognition. (2020-12-03)

Breaking the rules of chemistry unlocks new reaction
Scientists have broken the rules of enzyme engineering to unlock a new method for creating chemical reactions that could unlock a wide range of new applications -- from creating new drugs to food production. (2020-12-01)

RUDN University chemists developed a method to synthesize compounds for the pharmaceutics
A team of chemists from RUDN University suggested a universal method to synthesize thienoindolizine derivatives. Because of their special properties, these substances can be used to manufacture antibacterial and antitumor drugs, as well as new materials for optoelectronics. (2020-11-29)

New procedure will reduce the need for rare metals in chemical synthesis
Researchers from Kanazawa University performed an important type of tertiary alkylative cross-coupling reaction without using a rare-metal catalyst. Such efforts are needed to improve the long-term sustainability of important chemical syntheses and minimize supply chain disruptions caused by pandemics and other crises. (2020-11-27)

Warwick scientists design model to predict cellular drug targets against COVID-19
A computational model of a human lung cell has been used to understand how SARS-CoV-2 draws on human host cell metabolism to reproduce by researchers at the University of Warwick. This study helps understand how the virus uses the host to survive, and enable drug predictions for treating the virus to be made. (2020-11-25)

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