Seeing bonds

Peering at molecular structures is what chemists do. Technology that can improve the way that they see this world can have a huge impact on the field. In one such leap, researchers in China report the first visualisation of a hydrogen bond using atomic force microscopy (AFM).

First pictures of hydrogen bonds unveiledChemistry World, 26 September 2013.

Image credit: Xiaohui Qiu

Seek and destroy

Eric Drexler may get the credit for popularising the idea of nanotechnology in his books of the 1980s, but chemists have been dreaming of manipulating molecules to do their bidding ever since they found out that all matter is made of atoms. While Drexler’s self-assembling molecular machines may remain a dream, in the last decade chemists have already achieved a more practical version of that dream. Nanoparticles have found use in manufacturing, materials, energy, electronics and medicine. Now, a newly emerging field is using them to do two things at once diagnose and treat diseases.

Seek and destory.  Chemistry World, 1 October 2013.

Chemical brewers

Microbes are principally used by industry to turn larger organic compounds into smaller, more useful ones – fermenting corn sugars to produce ethanol, for instance. More desirable, though, is direct conversion of carbon dioxide into organic compounds. But current methods that use blue-green algae are not attractive.

Now US researchers have engineered a heat-loving microbe to produce a bulk chemical from carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Their results may provide a viable industrial alternative to blue-green algae, which have a much lower efficiency for such chemical transformations.

Engineered extremophile brews bulk chemicalChemistry World, 10 April 2013.

Image credit: Chemistry World