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Molecules

The synthesis of complex small molecules in the laboratory is specialized and intricate work that is both difficult and time-consuming. Even highly-trained chemists can take many years to determine how to build each one, let alone discover and describe its functions. In an attempt to improve this situation, a team of chemists at the University of Illinois claim to have created a machine that is able to assemble a vast range of complex molecules at the push of a button. Read More
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) group of radio telescopes have discovered a carbon-based molecule with a branched structure – a common feature in molecules that are required for life to form. Contained within a giant gas cloud in the star-forming region of Sagittarius B2, the molecule of isopropyl cyanide is the first hint that other complex molecules may form in space before finding their way to the surface of planets. Read More
Buckyballs (or Buckminsterfullerene), the soccer ball-like structures of 60 carbon atoms, have a new playmate. Previously only theorized, researchers from Brown University in the US and Shanxi and Tsinghua Universities in China have been the first to experimentally observe a boron "buckyball." Read More
While two-dimensional modeling of double-stranded DNA molecules has been useful for the purpose of cancer research, the composition of the G-quadruplex, a four-stranded DNA sequence, has proven a different beast. A 3D printing lab at the University of Alabama has successfully produced a physical model of its molecular structure, improving understanding of its makeup and potentially, helping develop a treatment for pancreatic cancer. Read More
Scientists from Harvard and MIT have jointly demonstrated that, in specific conditions, photons can be made to interact with each other and form molecules. Such groupings of photons, dubbed “Photonic molecules”, constitute an entirely new form of matter, which until recently was purely theoretical. Combining the properties of light and those of solids, in terms of physics this new form of matter is not unlike a certain material that millions of Star Wars fans are already well familiar with. Lightsaber material. Read More
Arguably the world’s most famous painting, da Vinci's Mona Lisa has now been copied onto the world’s smallest canvas at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Associate Professor Jennifer Curtis' "Mini Lisa" is one-third the width of a human hair, with details as small as one-eighth of a micron. Mini Lisa demonstrates the flexibility of a new nanolithography technique that can vary the surface concentration of molecules on very small portions of a substrate. Read More
The advent of unmanned combat vehicles is generating a need for smaller weapon systems to fit their reduced dimensions. As a result, more powerful explosives are being sought to get the most performance from smaller warheads. Introduction of new explosives is a rather slow process, as premature detonation of an explosive is extremely embarrassing. The desire for higher-performance explosives persists, though, so explosive chemists get used to dancing along the edge of instability. Fortunately, new chemistry occasionally appears that pushes the edge back a bit. The recent synthesis of a stable, high-performance explosive by a research team at the University of Michigan indicates that such new chemistry is now at hand. Read More

Chemistry isn't about to be left out of the buzz surrounding the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics in London. British chemists have collaborated with IBM Research - Zurich to develop and image a molecule just 1.2 nanometers wide that looks like the five Olympic rings. Read More

I don't know about other people, but when I was a child, I was inventing things such as a musical instrument made out of a folded piece of cardboard and some rubber bands. Ten year-old Clara Lazen, however, has done something a little more noteworthy. The fifth-grader from Kansas City, Missouri, built a model of a molecule that is new to science. If the molecule itself were to actually be created, it could possibly be used for energy storage, or in explosives. Read More
In order to capture slow-motion footage in which a bullet can actually be seen traveling through the air, a camera has to film at a speed somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 frames per second. Given that as a benchmark, what would be the purpose of a camera that manages a whopping 4.5 million fps? In the case of the UK-based Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)'s new X-ray camera, it's to obtain three-dimensional images of individual molecules. Read More
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