Slinn Pickings – the six pack

A foaming six-pack of chemical news stories from Reactive Reports with Robert Slinn

  • New microscopy method opens window on previously unseen cell features – Nongjian (N.J.) Tao and his colleagues at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University have pioneered a new technique capable of peering into single cells and even intracellular processes with unprecedented clarity. The method, known as electrochemical impedance microscopy (EIM) may be used to explore subtle features of profound importance for basic and applied research, including cell adhesion, cell death (or apoptosis) and electroporation—a process that can be used to introduce DNA or drugs into cells. This new investigative tool is expected to make significant research inroads, improving drug discovery for diseases like cancer, furthering the study of host cell-pathogen interactions, and refining the analysis of stem cell differentiation.
  • Research into synthetic antibodies offers hope for new diagnostics – In a pair of new papers, the Biodesign Institute group at Arizona State University have demonstrated a simple means of improving the binding affinity of synbodies, which are composed of 20 unit chains of amino acids, strung together in random order. They also used random peptide sequences spotted onto glass microarray slides to mine information concerning the active regions or epitopes of naturally occurring antibodies.
  • Unlocking the secrets of DNA – Neutron scattering has been used to investigate the structure of fibre DNA during the melting transition. This is the range of temperatures over which the bonds between base pairs break, or denature, causing the two strands of DNA to separate.
  • Curved carbon for electronics of the future – A new scientific discovery could have profound implications for nanoelectronic components. Researchers from the Nano-Science Center at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with Japanese researchers, have shown how electrons on thin tubes of graphite exhibit a unique interaction between their motion and their attached magnetic field — the so-called spin. The discovery paves the way for unprecedented control over the spin of electrons and may have a big impact on applications for spin-based nanoelectronics.
  • Nanoworld in color – Microscopically small nanostructured arrays of lenses that can record or project amazingly sharp images in brilliant colors are being demonstrated by Fraunhofer research scientists at the nano tech 2011 trade show in Tokyo from February 16 to 18.
  • Quantum Breakthrough: Tiny Optical Device Slows Light – This latest breakthrough attains an important benchmark: quantum engineers have now successfully slowed down light – at room temperature — to 155 miles per second, which is also the slowest speed for light ever achieved on a chip.

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