Metal, quantum dots, and life on earth

Latest science news with a spectral twist from my column on and more…

  • X-ray fuel – X-ray absorption spectroscopy, XAS, has been used to probe the metal centre of an important enzyme that can oxidise methane, natural gas, to methanol. Turns out the metal is copper not iron as previously thought and the discovery could open up a route to novel catalysts for converting "waste" methane (either from landfill or oil well flare-off) into useful liquid methanol for processing into fuel or other more valuable products.
  • Quantum boost for anticancer drugs – Quantum dots (QDs) have received significant attention in biological and biomedical fields. Now, UV-Vis spectroscopy and other techniques have been used to investigate their utility in enhancing the activity of the anticancer agent daunorubicin (DNR) in treating leukaemia cells.
  • MRI reporter – Researchers have developed an extracellular enzymatic gene-reporter system for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The system yields strong, reversible contrast changes in response to the expression of secreted alkaline phosphatase (SEAP). The products of SEAP activity can then be detected using an iron oxide based sensor.
  • Chemistry with bite – US chemists have constructed a molecule that bites its own tail and in so doing can trip other small molecules within the cavity that results. Fed a diet of zinc ions the "ouroborand", reported in Angewandte Chemie, will release its bite to let other smaller molecules into the central cavity. Remove the zinc ions and it loses its grip on the guest. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to characterise the components and the process.
  • Microbial detection – Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) can be used in a new microarray approach to microbial detection that is label-free, according to researchers writing in the April issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry.
  • All about crystal Eve – Scientists have reported the discovery of what may be the "ancestral Eve" crystal that billions of years ago gave life on Earth its curious and exclusive preference for so-called left-handed amino acids. Fourier transform IR spectroscopy and powder X-ray diffraction provide the evidence. Molecules of aspartic acid of a sinister, or left-handed, orientation, could be the ancestral Eve of all amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, terrestrial life.
  • Interview with Michael Mueller aka @eurogene aka @nutrigenomics – The pros and cons of being a scientist
  • WolframTones ringtones with a scientific twist – Create your own mobile phone ringtones using Wolfram's audio perspective on the computational universe

Author: bob投注平台

Award-winning freelance science writer, author of Deceived Wisdom. Sharp-shooting photographer and wannabe rockstar.