ComputerChemists.jpgThe researchers’ technique, which relies on self-organizing substances known as block copolymers, was described this week in the Nov. 9 issue  of the journal Science. It’s also being given a real-world test run in collaboration with HGST, one of the world’s leading innovators in disk drives.

“In the last few decades there’s been a steady, exponential increase in the amount of information that can be stored on memory devices, but things have now reached a point where we’re running up against physical limits,” said C. Grant Willson, professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the College of Natural Sciences and the Rashid Engineering Regents Chair in the Cockrell School of Engineering.

by Carl Saxton

High levels of antimony found in fruit juices causes concern for health, say European scientists. 

Antimony has no known biological function and the effects of long term human exposure are unknown. Antimony trioxide, a suspected carcinogen, is used as a catalyst in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) production which is used to package foodstuffs. 

by Rebecca Renner

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking a tougher stance on confidentiality claims that allow firms to prevent the names of chemicals identified as potential health risks being made available to the public.

The change to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), announced on 21 January, is the latest in the Obama administration's effort to strengthen the law, but not the last - the EPA promises additional steps in the coming months. 

by David L. Chandler

Computational approach to materials science could bring new properties even to familiar substances such as concrete and steel

A company that makes steel for bearings used in heavy trucks had a big problem. The trucks travel through harsh, perilous environments such as Siberia, and an unexpected bearing failure on a remote stretch could literally put the driver's life in danger. Knowing how long the steel would hold up under those conditions was beyond their ability to predict experimentally, so they turned to specialists at MIT.

New formula expected to increase the efficiency and decrease the cost

Fuel cells are often touted as one method to help decrease society’s addiction to fossil fuels. But there is still a lot of work to be done before fuel cells will be ready for mass market to be used in transportation, home heating and portable power for emergencies.

U of C chemists Jeff Hurd and George Shimizu have taken the science behind a specific type of fuel cell towards a higher level of design. They have discovered a new material that allows a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell, known as a PEM fuel cell, to work at a higher temperature. This discovery is extremely important in terms of increasing the efficiency and decreasing the cost of PEM fuel cells.

by Sarah Houlton

This year's chemistry Nobel prize has been awarded to scientists working on the chemistry of life - the translation of DNA information into proteins by the ribosome.

The winners - Venkatraman Ramakrishnan of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge, UK, Thomas Steitz of Yale University, US, and Ada Yonath from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel - used x-ray crystallography to determine the structure of the ribosome.

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