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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Chemistry Literature Feature Vol. I

This week marks the beginning of a new blog segment where I'll post one article from each cluster in the chemistry department at Michigan. If you come across an article (or have published one yourself!) that you'd like to see highlighted here, by all means send it in! E-mail treetownchem@gmail.com with your suggestions - I would love to hear them.

This week, we'll see some molecular fences with interesting fluorescence properties, explore the inside of tiny balls of silica, learn why coffee is good for your brain, and more. But first, a bit of fun:

Overheard at Michigan
     "The more words there are in front of the word 'spectroscopy,' the more excited I get."

Analytical: Are Reactive Oxygen Species Generated in Electrospray at Low Currents?
This ASAP article in Analytical Chemistry (ACS) examines the potential for electrospray ionization, a common ionization technique for mass spectrometry, to generate highly reactive by-products that can destroy analytes and confound results during measurement. The authors confirm that oxygen species generated in electrospray have a direct effect on a urease analyte and demonstrate how the damage can be avoided.

Biochemistry: Post-study Caffeine Administration Enhances Memory Consolidation in Humans
Published in Nature Neuroscience and highlighted by C&EN Magazine, this study seeks to determine the effect that caffeine has on long-term memory. The authors adapt a simple behavioral study previously applied in animal subjects to human participants. Caffeine doses are administered at careful times to avoid confounding the influence of caffeine on memory with other known effects on brain and body activity. If you're a coffee drinker, this one's for you.

Inorganic: On the Observation of Intervalence Charge Transfer Bands in Hydrogen-Bonded Mixed-Valence Complexes
In this article, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the authors set out to investigate the nature of light absorption in ruthenium carboxylate cluster complexes. Using spectroelectrochemistry, a simultaneous combination of spectroscopy and electrochemistry by which an experimenter can learn about states of a molecule that may not be stable long-term, the authors expertly identify the intensity and rate of long-range charge transfer in cluster dimers.

Materials: Crystalline Carbon Nitride Nanosheets for Improved Visible-Light Hydrogen Evolution
A large part of materials chemistry is concerned with creating nanomaterials - materials in a form where the individual pieces are so small that the properties change (sometimes drastically) from the properties of larger pieces of "bulk" material. In this Journal of the American Chemical Society paper, the authors investigate the ability of special nanosheets of only a few atomic layers in thickness to produce hydrogen from water under solar illumination. The sheets perform almost 20 times better than the same material at bulk scale.

Organic: The Effects of Cyclic Conjugation and Bending on the Optoelectronic Properties of Paraphenylenes
Published in Organic Letters (ACS), this communication from Professor Ramesh Jasti's group demonstrates the synthesis and unique absorption/fluorescence properties of cycloparaphenylenes. (I picture them as little fences and it makes me laugh.) The molecules are created using clever application of well-known organic reactions, and the optical properties are contrary to what you might expect - I won't spoil them here. If you missed Professor Jasti's seminar presentation last week at the U of M, this is a good paper to catch up with!

Physical: Water Confinement in Nanoporous Silica Materials
Both experimental and theoretical evidence are piling up around the idea that water trapped between big solutes or inside pores of extended solids is fundamentally different from the free bulk water composing most of the solution. This paper, published in the Journal of Chemical Physics (AIP), adds to the theoretical part of that pile with some molecular dynamics simulations examining the structure of water trapped in tiny holes of a common material like silica. These kinds of studies are interesting to me because of the implications for reactivity at solid-fluid interfaces - if we understand how solvents change at these interfaces, how can we extend that to more accurately describe how reactions proceed in those areas?

Remember, if you come across an article that you think should be featured here, send it in! treetownchem@gmail.com

Abbreviations:
ACS: American Chemical Society
AIP: American Institute of Physics
C&EN: Chemical & Engineering News

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