Chemistry Research News

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A collection of press releases about chemistry research conducted by Penn State scientists.
Renewable resource: sulfur is used, replenished to produce lipoic acid

Renewable resource: sulfur is used, replenished to produce lipoic acid

New research shows how a protein is consumed and then reconstituted during the production of lipoic acid, a compound required by our bodies to convert energy from food into a form that can be used by our cells.

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Two-dimensional materials gets a new theory for control of properties

Two-dimensional materials gets a new theory for control of properties

Desirable properties including increased electrical conductivity, improved mechanical properties, or magnetism for memory storage or information processing may be possible because of a theoretical method to control grain boundaries in two-dimensional materials, according to Penn State materials scientists.

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New, more sensitive sensor for evaluating drug safety

New, more sensitive sensor for evaluating drug safety

A new technique for evaluating drug safety can detect stress on cells at earlier stages than conventional methods, which mostly rely on detecting cell death. The new method uses a fluorescent sensor that is turned on in a cell when misfolded proteins begin to aggregate -- an early sign of cellular stress.

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Flexible flagella fight flow: Bacteria change a liquid’s properties and escape entrapment

Flexible flagella fight flow: Bacteria change a liquid’s properties and escape entrapment

A flexible tail allows swimming bacteria to thin the surrounding liquid and to free themselves when trapped along walls or obstacles, according to Penn State researchers. This finding could influence how bacterial growth is controlled.

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Low cost, scalable water-splitting fuels the future hydrogen economy

Low cost, scalable water-splitting fuels the future hydrogen economy

The "clean-energy economy" always seems a few steps away but never quite here. Fossil fuels still power transportation, heating and cooling, and manufacturing, but a team of scientists from Penn State and Florida State University have come one step closer to inexpensive, clean hydrogen fuel with a lower cost and industrially scalable catalyst that produces pure hydrogen through a low-energy water-splitting process.

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Catalytic Conveyer Belt: A new method for controlled delivery of particles via fluid flow

Catalytic Conveyer Belt: A new method for controlled delivery of particles via fluid flow

Researchers have developed a new method of transporting particles that utilizes chemical reactions to drive fluid flow within microfluidic devices. The research, which capitalizes on previous studies in self-powered chemo-mechanical movement, is a collaboration between scientists at Penn State’s Department of Chemistry and the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering.

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New, carbon-nanotube tool for ultra-sensitive virus detection and identification

New, carbon-nanotube tool for ultra-sensitive virus detection and identification

A new tool that uses a forest-like array of vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes that can be finely tuned to selectively trap viruses by their size can increase the detection threshold for viruses and speed the process of identifying newly-emerging viruses. The research, by an interdisciplinary team of scientists at Penn State, is published in the October 7, 2016 edition of the journal Science Advances.

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RNA, gravitational waves focus of two new grants

Four Penn State researchers have been awarded a total of $450,000 by the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation to carry out basic science research over the next two years.

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Under Pressure: New technique could make large, flexible solar panels more feasible

Under Pressure: New technique could make large, flexible solar panels more feasible

A new, high-pressure technique may allow the production of huge sheets of thin-film silicon semiconductors at low temperatures in simple reactors at a fraction of the size and cost of current technology. A paper describing the research by scientists at Penn State University appears May 13, 2016 in the journal Advanced Materials.

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Caught in the act: 3D structure of an RNA-modifying protein determined in action

Caught in the act: 3D structure of an RNA-modifying protein determined in action

The structure of a bacterial RNA-binding protein has been determined in the act of modifying a molecule of RNA -- an achievement that provides researchers with a unique view of the protein's function in action and could lead to clues that would help in the fight against the development of antibiotic-resistant infections. A paper describing the findings by a team of Penn State University researchers is published in the current issue of the journal Science.

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New trigger for self-powered mechanical movement

New trigger for self-powered mechanical movement

A new way to use the chemical reactions of certain enzymes to trigger self-powered mechanical movement has been developed by a team of researchers at Penn State University and the University of Pittsburgh. A paper describing the team's research, titled "Convective flow reversal in self-powered enzyme micropumps," is published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Simple mechanism for assembly and disassembly of structures in cells identified

Simple mechanism for assembly and disassembly of structures in cells identified

For the first time, scientists have demonstrated a simple charge-based mechanism for regulating the formation and dissolution of liquid-like structures inside cells. The research provides a first step in deciphering how these poorly-understood structures, which lack outer membranes, function in the cell -- and how they may have evolved. A paper describing the research by Penn State University scientists will appear on December 21, 2015, as an advance online publication of the journal, Nature Chemistry.

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Ultrasensitive Sensors Made from Boron-Doped Graphene

Ultrasensitive Sensors Made from Boron-Doped Graphene

An international team of researchers, led by Penn State, has developed ultrasensitive gas sensors based on the infusion of boron atoms into the tightly bound matrix of carbon atoms known as graphene. The group is composed of researchers from six countries and includes the 2010 Noble laureate and graphene pioneer Konstantin Novoselov, and Morinobu Endo, the discoverer of carbon nanotubes.

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Graduate students develop sustainability solutions to change the world

Graduate students develop sustainability solutions to change the world

Five interdisciplinary teams, made up of Penn State graduate students, presented their sustainability-related solutions to world challenges at the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Awards (SISCA). These students highlighted the connection to their homes and their research, showing why their work matters not just to them, but to those around the world.

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2D materials researchers aim 'beyond graphene': In the realm of 2D materials, weirdness works

2D materials researchers aim 'beyond graphene': In the realm of 2D materials, weirdness works

Joshua Robinson recalls the day in 2006 when he learned of a material that is, for all practical purposes, two-dimensional. At the time, he was a post-doctoral researcher at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. His advisor, Eric Snow, was raving about graphene, a newly isolated form of carbon. A cousin of the widely known buckminsterfullerene (or "buckyballs") and carbon nanotubes, graphene was a flat sheet only one carbon atom thick. The atoms were linked together in a six-sided, chicken-wire pattern, forming a lattice with astonishing properties. It was flexible, transparent, and stronger than steel. It conducted electricity better than copper and heat better than anything. In short, carbon in this form didn't behave like carbon anymore. It acted like an entirely new material.

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Benkovic research featured as "Paper of the Week" by The Journal of Biological Chemistry

Benkovic research featured as "Paper of the Week" by The Journal of Biological Chemistry

The Journal of Biological Chemistry has featured as its "Paper of the Week" research led by Stephen J. Benkovic, Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry and Holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Chemistry at Penn State University. A podcast interview with Benkovic, Postdoctoral Associate Hong Zhao, and Penn State Assistant Professor of Molecular Toxicology Andrew Patterson explaining the results of the research is available online. The paper, titled " Quantitative Analysis of Purine Nucleotides Indicates That Purinosomes Increase de Novo Purine Biosynthesis," demonstrates that the cellular synthesis of purines -- multifunctional organic compounds that are a building block of DNA, involved in cellular signaling, and a source of energy in cells -- is directly related to the presence of complexes known as purinisomes.

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$15 million research grant awarded to Penn State Center for Nanoscience

$15 million research grant awarded to Penn State Center for Nanoscience

The Penn State Center for Nanoscale Science, a National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), has been awarded a six-year, $15 million grant to continue its research and education program in the development and application of nanoscale materials.

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Acoustic tweezers manipulate cell-to-cell contact

Acoustic tweezers manipulate cell-to-cell contact

Sound waves can precisely position groups of cells for study without the danger of changing or damaging the cells, according to a team of Penn State researchers who are using surface acoustic waves to manipulate cell spacing and contact.

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Smallest Possible Diamonds Form Ultra-thin Nanothreads

Smallest Possible Diamonds Form Ultra-thin Nanothreads

For the first time, scientists have discovered how to produce ultra-thin "diamond nanothreads" that promise extraordinary properties, including strength and stiffness greater than that of today's strongest nanotubes and polymers. A paper describing this discovery by a research team led by John V. Badding, a professor of chemistry at Penn State University, will be published in the 21 September 2014 issue of the journal Nature Materials.

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Rethinking the Basic Science of Graphene Synthesis

Rethinking the Basic Science of Graphene Synthesis

A new route to making graphene has been discovered that could make the 21st century's wonder material easier to ramp up to industrial scale. Graphene -- a tightly bound single layer of carbon atoms with super strength and the ability to conduct heat and electricity better than any other known material -- has potential industrial uses that include flexible electronic displays, high-speed computing, stronger wind-turbine blades, and more-efficient solar cells, to name just a few under development.

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