First organic magnesium electride is stable at room temperature

The first magnesium-based electride has been synthesised by researchers in Norway, Poland and Spain. Electrides are of interest to materials scientists as they hold free-floating electrons in internal cavities, and therefore exhibit properties such as high conductivity. Among other things, this new species is stable at room temperature, offering new opportunities in materials science and […]

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J&J to phase out talc-based baby powder worldwide

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has confirmed it will withdraw its talc-based baby powders worldwide by 2023. The products will be replaced by formulations based on cornstarch, which are already sold in many countries worldwide. The firm is facing thousands of lawsuits in the US, from consumers who claim that asbestos in the talc-based powders caused […]

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Nature inspires greener generation of metal hydrides to make formic acid from CO2

An electrocatalytic method has been developed that can generate metal hydrides more cleanly and efficiently. The researchers then used the hydrides to reduce carbon dioxide to formic acid, a high value-added commodity chemical. ‘We were inspired by the efficiency of enzymes,’ explains Victor Mougel from ETH Zurich in Switzerland, who led the study. In nature, […]

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Combining expertise to develop remote-controlled nanomaterials

‘It was kind of crazy,’ laughs Beatriz Pelaz as she describes her colourful academic journey. ‘But I did it, and it worked out.’ ‘Worked out’ is certainly an understatement – this year Pelaz was awarded the Royal Spanish Society of Chemistry’s Young Researcher prize in recognition of her outstanding early career trajectory. In 2017 Pelaz […]

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Computational study says polonium can form hydrogen bonds

Researchers in India have calculated that polonium can form hydrogen bonds.1 Polonium is a naturally occurring radioactive element and its compounds engage in soil, marine and environmental chemistry. With Russia curtailing gas supplies to Europe, fracking for shale gas looks set to increase. Fracking could cause the release of polonium compounds into our atmosphere, such […]

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Controversy over ancient Chinese bronze chemistry

A study has provoked debate about whether the ingredients in ancient Chinese recipes for bronze, Jin and Xi, were not pure metals but alloys. This would show that the bronze-making process was more complicated than expected. But the work has been criticised by some experts. They suggest that discrepancies between the recipes and the chemistry […]

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Clever carbene synthesis replaces notoriously hazardous chemistry

Aldehydes can now be used instead of explosive diazo compounds or unstable dihalides to make carbene precursors for over 10 different reaction types. ‘We invented a new, safer way to make carbenes that enables all the unique, valuable reactivity of these compounds without the extra “bang” of unstabilised diazo reagents,’ says study leader David Nagib […]

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Renaissance science – XLI

The cabinets of curiosity featured in the last episode of this series often featured a section containing a mixed collection of stones, minerals, and fossils all thrown together in one category of natural history. This is not surprising when one thinks that the word fossil originally meant anything dug up out of the ground, from […]

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Protective treatment for Covid-19 makes minimal impact

There is limited uptake of Covid-19 treatments targeted at immunocompromised people and those who aren’t responsive to Covid-19 vaccines, largely for reasons that remain unclear. Meanwhile, demand for antivirals appears to be slowing, even as manufacturing capacity ramps up. While AstraZeneca’s prophylactic antibody combination Evusheld (tixagevimab and cilgavimab) is available to patients in several countries […]

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Manganese coordination polymer separates xylene isomers

Researchers have developed an innovative, energy efficient process to purify the three xylene isomers – ortho-, meta– and para-xylene. The method makes use of manganese coordination polymers, a stable and low-cost material that selectively adsorbs, recognises and separates the three molecules, in both vapour and liquid phases. The three xylene isomers ‘have very similar molecular […]

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