Chemistry, Materials, News, Science

Your eyes aren’t fooling you – this concrete absorbs 1,000 gallons of water per minute

topmix concrete

When there’s rain, let alone a storm, city streets form puddles and in some extreme cases get flooded. That’s because concrete mostly keeps water out, and only a tiny volume gets absorbed. A company from the UK, however, has come up with such an innovative solution that it almost seems like magic were it not pure science at work. Namely, they came up with a new kind of concrete that allows more water to percolate through its gaps, so much that 1,056 gallons were gobbled up in under 60 seconds during a test. It all seems unreal – but it’s as concrete as it gets.

Chemistry, Inventions, News, Science

First entropy-stabilized complex oxide alloy synthesized by NCSU

Schematic illustration of an entropy stabilized oxide at the atomic scale.
Image via nanowerk

North Carolina State University researchers have succeeded in proving that the crystalline structure of a material can be formed by disorder at an atomic level and not chemical bonds, by creating the world’s first entropy-stabilized alloy incorporating oxides.

Chemistry, News, Nutrition

What makes indian food so unique – a molecular explanation

Image Credit: Pixshark

After they analyzed more than 2,000 traditional Indian recipes down to the molecular levels, scientists now think they know what makes Indian cuisine so appealing. Unlike western dishes, Indian recipes are based on ingredients whose flavors don’t overlap for a unique taste that dumbstrucks anyone who tries it for the first time.

Archaeology, Chemistry, News

New research reveals the origins of the Polish “vampires”

The Vampire, by Philip Burne-Jones, 1897

Middle Age Europe was a place ruled by superstition and mythical beliefs – at least some parts of it were. Now, researchers are trying to figure out what made some people in Poland believe there was an ‘outbreak of vampires’ in the 17th and 18th century.

Chemistry, Materials, News

Scientists make recipes for metal glass, the wonder material you’ve never heard of

Electron scan microscope images of metallic glass.

What happens when you mix the physical properties of glass (brittle and flowing) and metal (stiff and tough)? You get metal glass, of course. Since the 1960s, scientists showed you can make certain alloys into metal glass by rapidly cooling them. Really, really fast. Hundreds of degrees in a fraction of a second. Eventually you end up with an alloy that both behaves like a metal and glass. Some are three times stronger than titanium and have the elastic modulus of bone, all while being extremely lightweight. They’re also a lot more easy to machine than metals. All in all, metal glass is amazing and has the possibility to transform the world, just like another wonder material: graphene. So, why aren’t we seeing more of it? Part of the problem is that research is moving painfully slow, but this may set to change after a team of researchers in Sydney reported a model for the atomic structure of metal glass. If until now scientists were testing various alloys and technique in the dark, by trial and error, now they have a cook book for metal glass.

Chemistry, Science

The chemistry lab glassware that changed science forever, but no one remembers anymore


This fashionable triangle-shaped glassware isn’t an office decoration, but a true vestige of the early analytical chemistry. It’s called the kaliapparat, a hollow glass tubular device used to measure carbon content in substances in 1830 by German chemist Justus Liebig, widely considered the father of organic chemistry.After it first appeared, because it was so reliable, it spread throughout labs in Europe and North Africa within a matter of years. Look at this device again. Does it look familiar? It’s none other than the American Chemical Society’s logo – the same logo still in use today more than a century later. As such, the kaliapparat is one of the most important chemistry vessel and analytical tool in history. It’s also one of the most obscure. Few chemists know about it. Most ACS members have no clue what it is or what the logo means for that matter.

Chemistry, News

Growing graphene nanoribbons jut got a lot easier, spelling great news for electronics


University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers devised a new method that grows graphene nanoribbons directly on a germanium wafer. The ribbons are of excellent quality and the technique is compatible with current manufacturing methods. These sort of ribbons have been heralded by industry experts as the component of the future which will make electronics faster and more efficient. The only thing that’s been missing until now was a sound way to make them.

Chemistry, Environmental Issues, News

Copper clusters could revolutionize CO2 capture and turn it into fuel to boot

The copper tetramer catalyst created by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory may help capture and convert carbon dioxide in a way that ultimately saves energy.
Credit: Image courtesy Larry Curtiss, Argonne National Laboratory

The chemical reactions used to make methanol from carbon dioxide rely on a catalyst to speed up the conversion, and scientists identified a new material that could fill this role. With its unique structure, this catalyst can capture and convert carbon dioxide in a way that ultimately saves energy.

Biology, Chemistry, News

First species of venomous frog found in Brazil

A closeup of C. greeningi frog skin that reveals the spikes on its head. Image credits: Carlos Jared.

The first venomous (yes, venomous – not poisonous) frog was discovered in Brazil by mistake. A frog head-buttedĀ Carlos Jared in the hand, and after a while he started feeling a strange pain; it took him a while to connect the dots and realize that the frog was responsible for the pain he was feeling and decided to find out what

Chemistry, News

Introducing stanene: just like graphene, except it’s a 2D tin honeycomb


After graphene proved to be one of the greatest discovery of the century, material scientists became inspired to see if other 2D meshes (just one atom thick layer of material) could be made from other elements. In time, we’ve heared about silicene, phosphorene or germanene. Now, a group from China reports for the first time stanene: a honeycomb 2D arrangement of tin (Sn) atoms, with a a bismuth telluride support that buckles the whole structure. Stanene is extremely exciting because it’s been previously theorized that it could transfer electricity without heat loss, implying huge energy savings and increased performance for semiconductor applications.