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September 07, 2016

VIP: Porous Pt Aggregates Deposited on a Carbon Nanotube Film with High Catalytic Activity and Durability

Yun Chen, Xiao Xia Wang, Prof. Dr. Bing Li, Xin Xin Huang and Prof. Dr. Jian Nong Wang

Porous Pt Aggregates Deposited on a Carbon Nanotube Film with High Catalytic Activity and Durability

Captured on film: By tailoring the conditions of electrochemical deposition, spherical, flower-like and cubic Pt aggregates stacked with polyhedron- and flake-shaped crystals are deposited on carbon nanotube films. These have porous frame structures and high catalytic activity and durability in the hydrogen oxidation and oxygen reduction reactions under harsh cycling conditions.

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August 25, 2016

VIP: Recycling Rare-Earth Slag for Enhanced Photoelectro- chemical Efficiency of a Reduced Graphene Oxide-Covered CdSe@ZnO Hetero-Nanostructured Photoanode

Recycling Rare-Earth Slag for Enhanced Photoelectro- chemical Efficiency of a Reduced Graphene Oxide-Covered CdSe@ZnO Hetero-Nanostructured Photoanode

Top of the heap: A two-layer hetero-nanostructure constructed from ZnO and CdSe nanoparticles as well as reduced graphene oxide, and covered with rare-earth oxides from slag, is demonstrated as an efficient anode for photoelectrochemical hydrogen generation. The products and fabrication methods used might also have applications in various nanotechnologies and facilitate the efficient use of slag byproducts from ironmaking.

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October 07, 2015

2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to DNA researchers

2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to DNA researchersThe 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to Tomas Lindahl (Francis Crick Institute and Clare Hall Laboratory, UK), Paul Modrich (Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Duke University School of Medicine, USA), and Aziz Sancar (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA) for explaining –at the molecular level– how the cell repairs its DNA and protects the genetic information. "Their systematic work has made a decisive contribution to the understanding of how the living cell functions, as well as providing knowledge about the molecular causes of several hereditary diseases and about mechanisms behind both cancer development and aging," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

DNA molecules remain surprisingly intact, and that although they are continuously being attacked by external agents such as chemicals or radiation. Even without such attacks, defects can also arise spontaneously, or they can occur when DNA is copied during cell division (a process that takes place many times every day in our body). Fortunately, our DNA is monitored by a swarm of proteins that permanently proof-read the genome and repair any damage that has occurred. This year's Nobel Laureates were able to map –independently of each other– several processes for DNA repair that are relevant to humans.

In the early 1970s, Tomas Lindahl demonstrated that DNA molecules are unstable. He showed that they inevitably undergo a slow but noticeable decay. At that time, the scientific community believed that DNA was extremely inalterable, but Lindahl's experiments showed that the genome was affected by thousands of potentially damaging injuries every day –a frequency that was clearly incompatible with human existence on Earth. Lindahl was convinced that there must be molecular systems for repairing all those DNA defects. This insight led him to discover the so-called base excision repair (BER) mechanism involving enzymes called glycosylases. In 1996 he was able to recreate the human repair process in vitro.

The mechanism used by the majority of cells to repair UV damage –called nucleotide excision repair (NER)– was mapped by Aziz Sancar. In groundbreaking in vitro experiments he showed that particular enzymes can identify UV-damage and then remove the fragment of nucleotides containing the injury to repair the DNA molecule. The cell also uses NER to correct defects caused, for example, by mutagenic substances.

Paul Modrich found that cells can also correct errors that occur when DNA is replicated during cell division by means of a mechanism called mismatch repair (MMR). Towards the end of the 1980s, he was able to recreate this complex molecular repair mechanism in vitro and study it in great detail. Today we know that all but one out of a thousand errors that occur when the human genome is copied are corrected by MMR.

DNA repair mechanisms are able to fix thousands of occurrences of DNA damage in our bodies every day. Lindahl, Modrich, and Sancar have helped us understand how this is done. "The basic research carried out by the 2015 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry has not only deepened our knowledge of how we function, but could also lead to the development of lifesaving treatments," the Academy said.

Kira Welter

Image: Nobel Medal (© ® The Nobel Foundation. Photo: Lovisa Engblom). Source: www.nobelprize.org.

This article was also published on the news site of ChemPhysChem.

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October 06, 2015

2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of neutrino oscillations

2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of neutrino oscillationsThis year's Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Takaaki Kajita (University of Tokyo, Japan) and Arthur B. McDonald (Queen's University, Canada) for demonstrating that neutrinos can switch identities. According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, "the discovery has changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter and can prove crucial to our view of the universe." Kajita and McDonald indirectly showed that the neutrino, which for a long time was considered massless, must have mass. Their experiments suggest that the Standard Model of particle physics cannot be the complete theory of how the fundamental constituents of the universe function.

In 1998, Kajita and his team reported that neutrinos created in reactions between cosmic rays and the Earth's atmosphere seem to switch identities on their way to the Super-Kamiokande detector in Japan. In 2001, the research group led by Arthur B. McDonald proved that neutrinos coming from the Sun also switch identities. These studies were carried out at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Canada.

Both experiments solved a long-standing neutrino puzzle. Since the 1960s, scientists had theoretically calculated the number of neutrinos that were created in the nuclear reactions that make the Sun shine, but when carrying out measurements on Earth, up to two thirds of the calculated amount was missing. To explain this difference, it was suggested that neutrinos could probably change identities. According to the Standard Model, there are three types of neutrinos: electron-neutrinos, muon-neutrinos, and tau-neutrinos. The Sun only produces electron-neutrinos, but if they would be transformed to any other form on their way to Earth, that would make the deficit of the captured electron-neutrinos understandable. Using huge detectors (built deep underground to isolate them from cosmic rays and other background radiation), this year's Nobel Laureates were able to confirm this suspicion. Their results have encouraged many new experiments and have made particle physicists think in new ways.

Kira Welter

Image: Nobel Medal (© ® The Nobel Foundation. Photo: Lovisa Engblom). Source: www.nobelprize.org.

This article was also published on the news site of ChemPhysChem.

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September 07, 2016
VIP: Porous Pt Aggregates Deposited on a Carbon Nanotube Film with High Catalytic Activity and Durability

August 25, 2016
VIP: Recycling Rare-Earth Slag for Enhanced Photoelectro- chemical Efficiency of a Reduced Graphene Oxide-Covered CdSe@ZnO Hetero-Nanostructured Photoanode

October 07, 2015
2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to DNA researchers

October 06, 2015
2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of neutrino oscillations

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