The snow may be melting, but it is leaving pollution behind in the form of micro- and nano-plastics according to a McGill study that was recently published in Environmental Pollution. The pollution is largely due to the relatively soluble plastics found in antifreeze products (polyethylene ... more
New 'chemical noses' to rid the environment of industrial pollutants
Scientists from five European countries have joined forces to develop next-generation 'chemical noses' to remove industrial pollutants from the environment. The European Commission allocated 2.9 million euros to finance the Horizon2020 FET-OPEN project INITIO that will bring together researchers from TalTech and five other universities as well as experts from an Interspectrum OÜ operating in Estonia and an Italian company in an international research project.
The supramolecular chemistry research group of the School of Science of Tallinn University of Technology has, for five years, been engaged in building new-generation receptor-molecules that would detect and send signals on pesticides and other industrial pollutants hazardous to the environment. Such smart 'electronic-nose-devices' would allow harmful toxins to be removed before their release into the environment.
The head of the supramolecular chemistry research group, Professor Riina Aav says, "Dealing with pollutants in the environment is becoming an ever-increasing problem. One relatively unknown reason for this is that many agricultural pesticides and pharmaceutical drugs that enter the environment are 'chiral', which means they exist in two non-superimposable forms (like left and right hands). This molecular quirk makes it difficult for the pollution control technologies to identify and remove many of these pollutants and this cannot be achieved by traditional methods for analysis."
'Chirality' of substances also has an impact on the environment whereto they are released. For example, one of their forms may be more toxic than the other and the chirality of the molecules may directly affect their environmental degradation. Chiral pollutants are found in pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, freon substitutes, dyes, antibiotics and many other drugs. In most cases we have no idea about their environmental impact.
The collaborating INITIO consortium will address this major issue by first engineering molecules that act as receptors - that recognize specific pollutants - and then integrate them with smart nanostructures to create devices that can be deployed directly in the field to detect and destroy the pollutants. These devices will essentially function as 'chemical noses' by sniffing out the specific industrial pollutants, thus facilitating their removal and destruction.
Our research group will build the receptor-molecules for these chemical noses. We will make container molecules, the 'hemicucurbiturils', which were recently developed in the project funded by Estonian Research Council. Our researchers will also build chiral molecular systems with recognition and signaling functions to flag the presence of specific pollutants, e.g. through changing colour," Professor Aav says.
The collaborative project will end in 2021 and the ultimate goal of the project is to develop a much more effective technology for cleaning the environment.
- receptor molecules
- supramolecular chemistry
A new study points to the need for better antibody validation, and outlines a process that other labs can use to make sure the antibodies they work with function properly. Antibodies are used in laboratories and clinics to study proteins, which are the biomolecules that translate informatio ... more
New technology developed by a team of McGill University scientists shows potential to streamline the analysis of proteins, offering a quick, high volume and cost-effective tool to hospitals and research labs alike. Proteins found in blood provide scientists and clinicians with key informati ... more
- 1Detect neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's by a simple eye scan?
- 2Fluorescence microscopy at highest spatial and temporal resolution
- 3The Mechanics of the Immune System
- 4Resolve Biosciences Launches New Era in Single-Cell Spatial Analysis
- 5Quick look under the skin
- 6New ion trap to create the world's most accurate mass spectrometer
- 7How does your computer smell?
- 8Clocking electron movements inside an atom
- 9Sartorius closes 2020 with strong growth
- 10A clear path to better insights into biomolecules