Some clever chemistry is employing magnetism and a light-sensitive soap to turn simple graphene into a super-material with applications in water purification and electronic devices.
It’s almost impossible to pick up a scientific publication at the moment without reading something about graphene or one of its carbon cousins, including nanotubes and buckyballs. Graphene itself is simply an individual layer of the common mineral graphite – the black material in pencil lead – pure carbon atoms bonded together in an ultrastrong hexagonal pattern.
Appeal of narrative style
In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0167983), researchers from the University of Washington looked at the abstracts from more than 700 scientific papers about climate change to find out what makes a paper influential in its field. But instead of focusing on content, they looked at writing style, which is normally more the province of humanities professors than of scientists.
In the community and politics, there is a tendency to conflate technically demonstrated projects with economically viable projects. Many technologies can be technically demonstrated, especially if money is no object, but they will always remain not commercially viable. The hydrogen economy is a good example.
On 28 November 2016, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) approved the names and symbols for four elements. Following a five-month period of public review, the names earlier proposed by the discoverers have been approved by the IUPAC Bureau.
Dave Sammut speaks with Sharon Todd, SCI’s Executive Director, about the organisation, its activities and its plans to participate in the 2017 Congress.
Geoff Hawthorne was a genuine ‘quiet achiever’. He contributed to many of CSIRO’s notable polymer chemistry projects, such as the polymer banknote project and the development of high-temperature resistant resins, but was little known outside the laboratory.
Science is continually changing as new knowledge is discovered. However, many students believe that scientific knowledge is immutable and that there is always a single, correct ‘textbook’ answer to every scientific question. This is contrary to the expected learning outcomes in the Australian Curriculum, which state: ‘Science involves the construction of explanations based on evidence and science knowledge can be changed as new evidence becomes available.’
The 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry recognised three scientists for pioneering work towards building molecular machines. Jean-Pierre Sauvage and Fraser Stoddart developed synthetic methodologies for making mechanical bonds, including catenanes and rotaxanes. Bernard L. Feringa, using these components and light-driven double-bond isomerisation, created the first molecular motor.
On the night of 10 December 2016 in Stockholm, Sweden, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was given to Jean-Pierre Sauvage (University of Strasbourg, France), Sir J. Fraser Stoddart (Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA) and Bernard L. Feringa (University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands) ‘for the design and synthesis of molecular machines’. Sauvage was the first to efficiently make a molecule held together by a mechanical bond and a variety of molecular knots. Stoddart was the first to thread a molecular ring onto an axis and Feringa put it all together to make the first molecular motor.
Regular readers of this magazine will be aware that this year, 2017, marks a momentous occasion for the RACI – we celebrate our 100th anniversary. The Australian Chemical Institute, as we were originally known, was founded in 1917. Throughout this year, there will be a number of activities and events across the breadth (both geographically and technically) of the RACI to mark our first century of promoting the chemistry profession in Australia. Some activities will celebrate our history. Others will be looking forward to explore the role of the RACI over the next 100 years.
2017 national awards
http://www.raci.org/awardsGetting involved in the national awards is a great way to celebrate RACI’s centenary year.
Dave Sammut explores current and emerging technologies aiming to meet future transport fuel needs.
Newly elected RACI Board member Katherine Locock MRACI has received a Victorian Young Tall Poppy Science Award for her research into antimicrobial polymers. She was among ten leading young researchers recognised late last year with Young Tall Poppy Science Awards at a ceremony at Swinburne University.