An international team has used neutron and X-ray tomography to investigate the dynamic processes that lead to capacity degradation at the electrodes in lithium batteries. Using a new mathematical method, it was possible to virtually unwind electrodes that had been wound into the form of a c ... more
Probing exotic ices
Water is everywhere. But it's not the same everywhere. When frozen under extreme pressures and temperatures, ice takes on a range of complex crystalline structures.
Many of the properties and behaviors of these exotic ices remain mysterious, but a team of researchers recently provided new understanding. They analyzed how water molecules interact with one another in three types of ice and found the interactions depended strongly on the orientation of the molecules and the overall structure of the ice.
"The new work has given us spectacular new insights on how water molecules behave when packed in dense and structurally complex environments," said Christoph Salzmann of the University College London. "Ultimately, this knowledge will enable us to understand liquid water as well as water surrounding biomolecules in a much better fashion."
Water is, of course, essential for life as we know it. But it's also unique due to its bent molecular shape, with two hydrogen atoms hanging off an oxygen atom at an angle. The overall molecule has an electrical polarity, with positively and negatively charged sides. Because of these properties, water molecules can fit together in a variety of ways when solidifying into ice.
As water typically freezes on Earth, the molecules assemble into a lattice with structural units shaped like hexagons. But at extremely high pressures and low temperatures, the molecules can arrange themselves in more complex ways, forming 17 different phases -- some of which may exist on the icy moons of the outer planets.
While the structures themselves are known, scientists don't yet fully understand how the molecules interact and affect one another, said Peter Hamm of the University of Zurich. In these ice phases, the molecules are bonded together, influencing one another as if they were all connected with springs.
To understand these interactions, Salzmann, Hamm and their team used 2-D infrared spectroscopy on three ice phases with diverse structures: ice II, ice V and ice XIII. In this method, they fired a sequence of ultrashort infrared laser pulses to excite the molecular bonds in the ice, causing them to vibrate.
As the molecular vibrations settle back down to a lower energy state, the molecule emits light at infrared frequencies. By measuring how the intensity of the infrared emission depends on the frequencies of both the pulse and the emitted radiation -- producing 2-D spectra -- the researchers can determine how the molecules interact with one another.
After collecting data on the ice, some of which had to be frozen at below -200 degrees Celsius and at pressures several thousand times that of the atmosphere at sea level, the researchers used computer simulations of molecular interactions to help interpret their results. While the simulations matched the data for ice II, they did not for ice V and XIII, which speaks to the complexity of the system.
Still, insights from this kind of analysis can help inform computer simulations used to model the behavior of biological molecules like proteins, which are usually surrounded by water.
"Water ice is important, and we need to be able to understand it on a very microscopic level," Hamm said. "Then we can better understand how water interacts with other molecules, and particularly biomolecules."
Many of the molecular building blocks of life have two versions that are mirror images of one another, known as enantiomers. Although seemingly identical, the two enantiomers can have completely different chemical behaviour – a fact that has major implications in our day-to-day lives. For e ... more
Vaccinia virus, a poxvirus closely related to smallpox and monkeypox, tricks cells it has infected into activating their own cell movement mechanism to rapidly spread the virus in cells and mice, according to a new UCL-led study. The findings explain how the virus mimics infected cells' own ... more
An imaging approach developed at UZH enables the study of breast cancer tissue in greater detail. It uses 35 biomarkers to identify the different cell types in breast tumors and its surrounding area compared to the current standard of testing single markers. This increases the precision of ... more
The XENON1T detector is mainly used to detect dark matter particles deep underground. But a research team led by Zurich physicists, among others, has now managed to observe an extremely rare process using the detector – the decay of the Xenon-124 atom, which has an enormously long half-life ... more
Radioactive antibodies that target cancer cells are used for medical diagnostics with PET imaging or for targeted radioimmunotherapy. Researchers from the University of Zurich have created a new method for radiolabelling antibodies using UV light. In less than 15 minutes, the proteins are r ... more
University of Groningen physicists have visualized hydrogen at the titanium/titanium hydride interface using a transmission electron microscope. Using a new technique, they succeeded in visualizing both the metal and the hydrogen atoms in a single image, allowing them to test different theo ... more
University of Groningen scientists, led by Associate Professor of Chemical Biology Giovanni Maglia, have designed a nanopore system that is capable of measuring different metabolites simultaneously in a variety of biological fluids, all in a matter of seconds. The electrical output signal i ... more
An international team of researchers from the Netherlands, Russia and Austria discovered that monolayer coverage and channel length set the mobility in self-assembled monolayer field-effect transistors (SAMFETs). This opens the door to extremely sensitive chemical sensors that can be produc ... more
Many industrial buildings, including nuclear power plants and chemical plants, rely on ultrasound instruments that continually monitor the structural integrity of their systems without damaging or altering their features. One new technique draws on laser technology and candle soot to genera ... more
Monitoring and tracking biological threats or epidemics require the ability to carry out medical and laboratory tests in the field during a disaster or other austere situations. Expensive laboratory equipment is often unavailable in these settings, so inexpensive point-of-care technology is ... more
As a solution evaporates, the dissolved chemicals concentrate until they begin forming a crystal through a process called nucleation. Industries that use small crystals in pharmaceuticals, food and microelectronics are seeking to understanding this nucleation event. Scientists studying nucl ... more
- 1A new, highly sensitive chemical sensor uses protein nanowires
- 2New COVID-19 test quickly and accurately detects viral RNA
- 3Researcher Develops One Minute Coronavirus Test
- 4Diagnostic biosensor quickly detects SARS-CoV-2 from nasopharyngeal swabs
- 5The Higgs boson and superconductivity
- 6A new biosensor for the COVID-19 virus
- 7A Glimpse into Real-Time Methanol Synthesis
- 8Single-cell RNA seq method developed to accurately quantify cell-specific drug effects in pancreatic islets
- 9Start-up Raises 16.3 million Euros to Prepare Market Launch of its SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Testing System
- 10Sartorius closes acquisition of selected assets of Danaher Life Sciences
- Pretty as a peacock: The gemstone for the next generation of smart sensors
- Print your own laboratory-grade microscope for US$18
- Mologic awarded c.£1 million by UK government to develop rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19
- 'Tickling' an atom to investigate the behavior of materials
- Applied Photophysics board appoints Tim Flanagan as CEO