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Monday, February 10, 2014

Chemistry Literature Feature Vol. II

In this edition of the Tree Town Chemistry literature feature, we'll take a look at nifty experimental methods for determining the nature of electrocatalysts, self-illuminating quantum dots, and a sympathetic read for synthetic chemists everywhere. Have you seen a good paper lately? Written one? Send it in and have it featured here! treetownchem@gmail.com

A bit of advice before we continue, though... if your lab mates are starting up a game of cards and they ask you to play, you may not have as much of an option as you think.

Overheard at Michigan
   "It's okay, you don't have to play [euchre]. I have a heart, and if you don't care about it, then you don't have to play."

Analytical: The Genesis of a Heterogeneous Catalyst: in situ Observation of a Transition Metal Complex Adsorbing onto an Oxide Surface in Solution
In this communication, published in Chemical Communications (RSC), the authors use an extremely sensitive type of balance to examine the adsorption/desorption of well-known platinum complexes to surfaces, and suggest that their technique could be extended to the study of supported catalysts. I wonder whether this type of in situ technique could be used to understand whether soluble molecular electrocatalysts become heterogeneous (solid particles) during use.

Chemical Biology: A Conserved Water-Mediated Hydrogen Bond Network Defines Bosutinib's Kinase Selectivity
Many important drugs function by disabling a protein which is especially relevant to a disease state - a feat which is far easier said than done. In the case of this study published in Nature Chemical Biology (NPG), the authors investigate pieces of the intimate mechanism by which a potential anti-cancer agent called bosutinib interacts with kinase proteins (which are overly active in cancer cells). Interestingly, the authors use simple FTIR spectroscopy to provide strong support for their findings that the confined water within the protein binding pocket is critical to the drug's functionality.

ChemBio people might also be interested in the Materials paper, which deals with a new idea for in vivo tumor imaging.

Inorganic: Anchoring a Molecular Iron Catalyst to Solar-Responsive WO3 Improves the Rate and Selectivity of Photoelectrochemical Water Oxidation
Published and highlighted in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and again in this prestigious publication, this communication addresses the possibility of customizing the surface of a light-absorbing solid electrode with a catalytic molecule. The authors show this new hybrid photoelectrocatalyst produces oxygen from water faster and with less wasted energy than either component alone. --suggested by Tanya Breault

Materials: Self-Illuminating 64Cu-Doped CdSe/ZnS Nanocrystals for in vivo Tumor Imaging
Inorganic materials in the form of quantum dots - particles so tiny that they take on a whole new set of properties - have gained popularity as imaging agents for medical technology. The authors of this study, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, introduced radioactive copper atoms into a common quantum dot composition. As the copper decays and emits alpha particles, the quantum dots light up due to Cherenkov radiation, providing both PET and luminescence images of tumors in living rats.

Organic: Review of "More Dead Ends and Detours. En Route to Successful Total Synthesis" by Miguel A. Sierra, Maria C. de la Torre, and Fernando P. Cossío
Total synthesis is one of the more terrifying concepts in chemistry. Chemists will develop schemes for synthesizing large molecules with incredible complexity, involving tens or sometimes hundreds of steps. Personally, the idea fills me with dread - however, for some, the chase is extremely rewarding. Angewandte Chemie (GDCh) recently ran a book review of the aforementioned title, in which a group of synthetic chemists gives a personal record of their hands-on experiences in total organic synthesis. Sounds like it would be worth a read by any synthetic chemist!

Physical: Enthalpy-Entropy Compensation Effect in Hydrogen Storage Materials: Striking Example of Alkali Silanides MSiH3 (M = K, Rb, Cs)
With growing research interest in the proposed hydrogen economy, chemists are pursuing numerous strategies for storing gaseous hydrogen safely. This study in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C (ACS) examines the ability of alkali metal silicon compounds to reversibly take up and release gaseous hydrogen. The authors establish a basic thermodynamic basis for their findings, establishing that more stable compounds are formed when the hydrogen atoms being absorbed are more constrained in the final structure.

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

ACS - American Chemical Society
GDCh - Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (German Chemical Society)
NPG - Nature Publishing Group
RSC - Royal Society of Chemistry

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