December 2016 - ACS Axial | ACS Publications

Uncovering the Best Target for Improving Engine Emissions

Emissions from cars can be a high-stakes issue, as last year’s Volkswagen scandal demonstrated. The pressure is on to meet tightening fuel emissions standards, and in that case it led the carmaker to cheat on emissions tests. But wrongdoing aside, how are automakers going to realistically meet future, tougher emissions requirements to reduce their impact on the climate? Researchers report today that a vehicle’s cold start —at least in the case of gasoline-powered cars —is the best target for future design changes.

Watch as Greg Drozd, of the University of California, Berkeley, offers a deep dive on this topic and answers some pressing questions:

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ACS Editors’ Choice: Machine Learning Force Fields and More!

This week: machine learning force fields, expediting combinatorial data set analysis, biomonitoring human albumin adducts — and more!

Each and every day, ACS grants free access to a new peer-reviewed research article from one of the Society’s journals. These articles are specially chosen by a team of scientific editors of ACS journals from around the world to highlight the transformative power of chemistry. Access to these articles will remain open to all as a public service.

Check out this week’s picks!
Influence of the Particle Concentration and Marangoni Flow on the Formation of Cellulose Nanocrystal Films

Langmuir, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.6b03724
Machine Learning Force Fields: Construction, Validation, and Outlook

J. Phys. Chem. C, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.6b10908
Inhibition of the Serotonin Transporter Is Altered by Metabolites of Selective Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors and Represents a Caution to Acute or Chronic Treatment Paradigms

ACS Chem. Neurosci., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acschemneuro.6b00343
Introduction to the Colloidal Glass Transition

ACS Macro Lett., 2017, 6, pp 27–34
DOI: 10.1021/acsmacrolett.6b00826
Multifunctional Self-Adhesive Fibrous Layered Matrix (FiLM) for Tissue Glues and Therapeutic Carriers

Biomacromolecules, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.6b01413
Spinning of Cellulose Nanofibrils into Filaments: A Review

Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.6b04010
Enhanced Resolution of Chiral Amino Acids with Capillary Electrophoresis for Biosignature Detection in Extraterrestrial Samples

Anal. Chem., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.6b04338
Experimental and Modeling Investigation of the Effect of H2S Addition to Methane on the Ignition and Oxidation at High Pressures

Energy Fuels, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.energyfuels.6b02140
DNA Origami–Graphene Hybrid Nanopore for DNA Detection

ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acsami.6b11001
Expediting Combinatorial Data Set Analysis by Combining Human and Algorithmic Analysis

ACS Comb. Sci., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acscombsci.6b00151
Experimental Determination of Isotope Enrichment Factors – Bias from Mass Removal by Repetitive Sampling

Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b03689
Poly(ethylene glycol) Crowding as Critical Factor To Determine pDNA Packaging Scheme into Polyplex Micelles for Enhanced Gene Expression

Biomacromolecules, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.6b01247
Biomonitoring Human Albumin Adducts: The Past, the Present, and the Future

Chem. Res. Toxicol., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.6b00366
Ultrarigid Indenyl-based Hafnocene Complexes for the Highly Isoselective Polymerization of Propene: Tunable Polymerization Performance Adopting Various Sterically Demanding 4-Aryl Substituents

Organometallics, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.organomet.6b00814
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Could Milk Hold the Answer to Our Food Packaging Problems?

The plastic packaging that most foods come wrapped in isn’t just a tremendous source of environmental waste. These kinds of packages aren’t even particularly adept at preventing food spoilage and they may even leech harmful chemicals into food. Now researchers are developing a biodegradable, edible film made from a milk protein called casein to hopefully solve these problems.

This film technology could have a variety of uses beyond simply reducing the amount of plastic used to contain food. They could create opportunities for single-serve portions of soup or instant coffee that could dissolve in hot water, or even help cereal stay crunchy in milk.

Learn more about this breakthrough:

Watch Peggy M. Tomasula and Laetitia M. Bonnaillie of the U.S. Department of Agriculture discuss this research at the 252nd ACS National Meeting and Exposition in Philadelphia earlier this year:

Get more great videos from the American Chemical Society.

Diving Into the Nanoscale World With Priestley Medal Winner Mostafa El-Sayed

Mostafa El-Sayed’s chemistry career spans almost 60 years. His research includes using lasers and other tools to better understand the properties and behavior of molecules, especially the properties of nanoscale materials. He is a pioneer in the use of nanomedicine to fight cancer. He even has a spectroscopy rule named after him: the “El-Sayed rule,” which deals with how energy cascades into other forms when electrons are absorbed. For all of these reasons and more, the American Chemical Society awarded it’s highest honor, the Priestley Medal, to El-Sayed in 2016.

In this video, Mostafa El-Sayed discusses his nanoscience research, his approach to international scientific collaboration, and the future of cancer treatments:

Learn more about Mostafa El-Sayed‘s research and get more videos from the American Chemical Society.

Understanding the Factors That Influence How Cancer Spreads

Nine out of 10 cancer deaths care caused by cancer cells spreading from the primary tumor to other parts of the body. A better understanding of cell shape adaptation and its relationship to metastasis may lead to better treatment decisions. Why does cancer sometimes spread more aggressively in some patients than others? Part of the answer may lie in cell shape adaptation. A variety of factors, including nuclear size, cell deformability, and cell-to-substrate adhesion, can affect the rate at which cancer spreads through the body, according to new research published in ACS Nano.

In this video, watch author Magdalini Panagiotakopoulou of ETH Zurich, Laboratory of Thermodynamics in Emerging Technologies, describe how she and other researchers used 3D nanoprinted structures that mimic the pores of human tissue to study interstitial cancer migration. The authors demonstrated a link between the ability of cells to migrate in complex environments and their ability to replicate.

Watch the video to learn more about the research:

Get more great videos from ACS and more research from ACS Nano.

Finding a Practical Way to Fabricate Graphene Speakers

Even today’s smallest portable speakers come in some kind of rigid acoustic cavity – that is, in a box. But now, Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology report a simple way to fabricate these once-elusive thermoacoustic speakers using graphene.

Conventional speakers today rely on many mechanical parts that vibrate to create sound and must be encased in an acoustic cavity — essentially, in a box. But this approach complicates manufacturing and limits where listeners can put their speakers. Scientists have been pursuing ways around this by turning to a principle conceived of more than a century ago: thermoacoustics, the production of sound by rapidly heating and cooling a material rather than through vibrations. Science has caught up to this concept largely thanks to the development of graphene, which is highly conductive and durable. Some efforts to make graphene speakers have succeeded, but making them en masse would be challenging. Jung-Woo Choi, Byungjin Cho, Sang Ouk Kim and colleagues at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) wanted to come up with a simpler approach.

The researchers developed a two-step (freeze-drying and reduction/doping) method for making a sound-emitting graphene aerogel. An array of 16 of these aerogels comprised a speaker that could operate on 40 Watts of power with a sound quality comparable to that of other graphene-based sound systems. The researchers say their fabrication method is practical and could lend itself to mass production for use in mobile devices and other applications. Because the speaker is thin and doesn’t vibrate, it could fit snugly against walls and even curved surfaces.

Watch this video to learn more about fabricating graphene speakers:

Read more about this research in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Could Synthetic Rubber Pave the Way for Biodegradable Tires?

Non-biodegradable tires have been on environmentalists’ blacklist for decades. According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, nearly 270 million tires were discarded in the U.S. in 2013 — more than one tire per adult living in the country.  More than half go on to become tire-derived fuel — shredded scrap tires that get mixed with coal and other materials to help power cement kilns, pulp and paper mills and other plants. But environmentalists are concerned that the emissions from this practice could be adding harmful pollutants to the air. One potential solution could be to replace conventional tire materials with a new synthetic rubber that could easily degrade back to its chemical building blocks and reused in new tires and other products.

In this video, Antisar Hlil of Texas A&M University at Qatar explain efforts to use biodegradable synthetic rubber in tires:

Get more great videos from ACS.

19 of the Most Important Chemistry Research Topics

Looking for the hottest topics in chemistry research? Virtual Collections include Virtual Issues, Special Issues and Thematic Collections from ACS Publications journals. These collections reflect important chemistry topics of current scientific interest and are designed for experienced investigators and educators alike.

Enjoy our collections on research topics in chemistry between April and September, 2016.

Recent Advances in Atomic Layer Deposition


Atomic layer deposition (ALD) is a powerful technique for fabricating atomically precise coatings on a variety of surfaces, with sub-nanometer precision in both film thickness and composition. Read more.

Thermoelectric Materials

The escalating demand for alternative, clean energy sources requires the development of new and effective materials for energy recovery, conversion, storage, and transfer. Thermoelectric (TE) materials convert heat into electrical energy and vice versa and, as such, are promising materials for waste heat reduction or recovery. Read more.

Legacy of Richard Heck

On October 10th, 2015, Professor Richard F. Heck, 2010 Nobel Laureate and discoverer of the palladium-catalyzed transformation that bears his name, passed away at the age of 84. For those involved in the field of chemistry, and in particular those who study organometallics and the interface of organic and inorganic chemistry, we lost one of the great pioneers of our times. Read more.

Enhanced Performance Separations: Smaller, Faster, More Complex Samples

Much of analytical separations based research is focused on developing instrumentation and techniques with enhanced capabilities. There is constant pressure to develop methods that are faster, more sensitive, more selective, can handle ever smaller samples and can do this in adverse conditions and in the presence of complex matrices. Read more.

Catalysis at U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratories

This Virtual Special Issue of ACS Catalysis highlights “Catalysis at U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratories,” covering a wide range of research topics in heterogeneous catalysis, homogeneous/molecular catalysis, electrocatalysis, and surface science. Read more.

Environmental Nanotoxicology

The field of nanotechnology has expanded rapidly, entering sectors that impact all aspects of our lives. In spite of this, the general consensus among the scientific community is that our understanding of the fate and effects of engineered nanomaterials is currently inadequate to accurately assess risk. Nanotoxicology has evolved as the discipline to fill in critical gaps in understanding of the potential adverse effects of nanomaterials. Read more.

Bioconjugates for Chemical Biology

here is a strong intellectual connection between bioconjugate chemistry and chemical biology. Both research areas use the tools of chemistry to exploit biological processes for desired purposes (e.g., drug delivery) and explore the frontiers of biology. Read more.

Best Practices for Reporting the Properties of Materials and Devices

Writing up your research accomplishments for publication represents the culmination of many months, or years, of effort, often by many people, on a project. Publishing is the currency of science, but results that are interesting in and of themselves are insufficient for publication – the data and analyses need to be convincing to the reader with respect to their soundness and substance. Read more.

Nanoreactors: Small Spaces, Big Implications in Chemistry

In recent years, chemists have worked to understand how fundamental chemical principles change when systems are confined to spaces with nanoscale dimensions or sub-microliter volumes. These so-called “nanoreactors” change the basic chemical nature of molecules and moieties within them, and alter how they behave in chemical reactions. Read more.

Behavioral Research in Chemical Neuroscience

The field of behavioral neuroscience aims to unravel the neural mechanisms governing the cognitive, emotional, and sensory functions that comprise human and animal behavior. Fundamentally, chemical signaling underlies the manifestation of behavior, as well as behavioral dysfunction arising from neurodegenerative diseases, psychiatric disorders, and addiction. Read more.

Atmospheric Physical Chemistry

This collection contains 25 papers published in the Atmospheric Chemistry section of the Journal of Physical Chemistry A (JPC A) since 2013. The vision is that this collection will be useful for generating new ideas, pushing existing boundaries, and motivating new research in atmospheric chemistry. Read more.

Invited Papers from ACS Boston

This Virtual Special Issue is devoted to papers from authors who made outstanding presentations at the 250th ACS National Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. We asked session chairs and symposia organizers within a few divisions that align with I&EC Research subject areas to identify the best presentation from their session. Read more.

Enzymology in Chemical Toxicology Beyond P450s

Over the years, Chemical Research in Toxicology (CRT) has published numerous papers on the metabolic activation and detoxication of many toxicants and their mechanisms of action. This Virtual Issue features a collection of manuscripts that are concerned with the roles of non-P450 enzymes and other proteins in toxicology that were published within the past two years. Read more.

Margaret C. (Peggy) Etter Virtual Memorial Issue

2017 will mark a quarter of a century since the premature death of Margaret C. (Peggy) Etter at the age of 48. She became a scientist during the 1960s renaissance of organic state chemistry pioneered by Gerhard Schmidt and Mendel Cohen at the Weizmann Institute in Israel and David Curtin and Iain Paul at the University of Illinois. Read more.

Catalysis in The Netherlands

This Virtual Special Issue of ACS Catalysis highlights “Catalysis in The Netherlands,” a leading country in catalysis research. Several factors make this country unique: (i) the large chemical ‘ecosystem’ in the region, (ii) the nature of collaborative work, and (iii) the tradition of research schools established within large-scale R&D groups at Dutch universities. Read more.

Process Intensification

This Virtual Issue is devoted to the topic of process intensification. We collected articles published recently in this important area of research, which aims to make unit operations such as heat transfer, reaction, separation, or mixing more efficient. Read more.

Classics in Chemical Neuroscience

In 2013, ACS Chemical Neuroscience initiated the “Classics in Chemical Neuroscience” review series. Each review in this unique installment describes a significant pharmacological advance in CNS-related disorders, detailing the development, chemistry, and mechanism of action of CNS agents. Read more.

In Memory of Ahmed Zewail

This collection serves as a memorial to Ahmed Zewail, the father of Femtochemistry, who passed away on August 2, 2016. It contains 25 papers published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry (including parts A, B and C) by Zewail and his collaborators during the 1984-2007 period including papers that highlight Zewail’s development of femtosecond pump/probe and ultrafast electron diffraction experiments as well as the transition from gas phase isolated molecule studies, to dynamics in clusters, and then to ultrafast processes in liquids and in biological systems. Read more.

Adverse Outcome Pathways

Environmental toxicologists supporting risk assessments of human or ecological health are responsible for generating data for possible adverse effects of a rapidly increasing number of substances. New approaches in systems biology and systems toxicology aim to computationally reconstruct core components of molecular, cellular and organ level networks that are responsible for normal functions or adverse outcomes due to chemical exposure. Read more.

Reddit Goes Inside the Evolution of Nanoscience with ACS Nano

On December 6, ACS Publications hosted a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) with ACS Nano Editor-in-Chief Paul S. Weiss. Professor Weiss is a leader in nanoscience and nanotechnology, with his lab focusing on understanding chemistry and materials at the smallest of scales. He is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, as well as Materials Science & Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as the California NanoSystems Institute. Redditors were very curious about innovations in nanotechnology, especially in areas where science and science fiction seem to overlap. Are tiny robots the way of the future or purely speculative? Read below to find out.

/u/Ali_Safdari: If yes, what do you think they’ll be like? Clusters of enzymes that catalyse a particular series of reactions; or microscopic metallic insect-like creatures?

Professor Weiss: Our abilities to have molecules and assemblies move under control or responsively are very limited. (I work in this area!) On the other hand, there are proofs of principle in biology, viruses, biomolecular machines, etc. Our first successes in making molecular machines have been with hybrids, where we make (relatively small) modifications to biomolecules and assemblies or even modify viruses and parts of cells to function in some new or better way. One can (and nature does) cluster enzymes and have them work in an assembly line. Here is an example from nature (in ACS Nano). Here is a illustration of the synthesis and assembly of the proteins making up a biological nanoassembly.

/u/iorgfeflkd: Do you feel that the meaning and implications of “nanotechnology” have evolved over the years? In what ways? How do you feel about the evolution of the term?

Professor Weiss: Yes, the term is evolving, both for specialists and the public. I think it is critical to communicate to the public (and each other) what we are doing and what we are trying to do, rather than letting science fiction versions of nanoscience and nanotechnology determine that perception. Many of the other questions relate in some way to this issue and that is one reason I am happy to do this AMA!

/u/bluemutt: How has battery technology affected your research? Is there any significant drawbacks with the lack of battery progression over the years?

Professor Weiss: Drawbacks- absolutely! We have already glimpsed how we could do better if we had better battery technologies.

Until recently, I did not think that I personally had much to offer in this area. Then, one of my students, Andrew Serino, and a colleague in Materials Science & Engineering, Bruce Dunn, convinced me that the exquisite control that we have over surface functionalization could be of use, so we have put one toe in the water (and Andrew is probably working on a manuscript right now!).

/u/Bambam9032: US Senator Ron Wyden once said: “My own judgment is that the nanotechnology revolution has the potential to change America on a scale equal to, if not greater than, the computer revolution.” Do you agree with this statement? What industry do you see nanotechnology having the greatest impact on in the near future?

Professor Weiss: I would argue that nanotechnology has been partly responsible for the computer revolution. 😉 Seriously, it is not a competition. Both fields are moving the world forward. We have already seen incredible impact on information technology.

One of the key aspects of nano is that it is also the scale of function in biology. We can use nanoscience and nanotechnology to understand biology and then hopefully turn it around and learn to interact more effectively with biological systems.

My colleague, collaborator, and wife, Anne Andrews (also AMA, and an editor at ACS Chemical Neuroscience) likes to say, “The brain has always been nano,” because that is the synapse scale (10-20 nanometers) and thus the scale of function. I am glad of that happy coincidence, as it is how and why we first got together! For more on studying the brain, see here. For nano and other tools for studying the microbiome, see here (and please admire the table of contents painting by Andrea Selby!)

/u/shiruken: As nanotechnology begins to enter the market for consumer use, will new disposal protocols become necessary to prevent nanoparticles from accumulating in unwanted places (rivers, lakes, etc.)? How have laboratories handled the safe disposal of such small objects?

Professor Weiss: I LOVE this question! Absolutely! It makes complete sense to think of product life cycles and recycling of materials. Materials can be made to dissolve or can be recaptured. We have a great effort in nano-environmental health and safety, and a focus in ACS Nano from the start. We have brought together experts from around the world to move the field forward (one example: but also see papers and perspectives by our editor Andre Nel and others) and to address regulation, as well, and its relevance to safe commercialization (see here.)

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone: Making The Most of Your PhD

‘You have to be in it to win it’.

This might be a clichéd phrase, but it’s one I’ve tried to live by since starting my PhD. Like a lot of inexperienced twenty-somethings, I have a phobia of ‘putting myself out there’. The thought of public speaking makes me break out in a nervous sweat. What if somebody asks you a question you don’t know the answer to, and the impostor syndrome that you’ve been suppressing deep down is suddenly validated? Everybody fears rejection, and it’s easy to stay in your comfort zone. By not applying for opportunities and competitions, you’re choosing not to go, not to win, and be told that you’re not good enough. It’s a self-defense mechanism that limits your opportunities.

Breaking out of my cozy shell, I decided to apply for the 2016 SciFinder Future Leaders program. Writing a short essay on how SciFinder is valuable to your work seems like a daunting task. How can you make it stand out from all of the other applications? Unbelievably, I was selected, and embarked upon my journey to Columbus, Ohio. During the week, there were activities to really push us to the limits of our comfort zone. On only the second day, we underwent a challenge to design a scientific product with a group of other participants in the program we’d just met. At the end of the session, we had to pitch our idea in front of a panel of judges with a video camera pointing right at us. However, working with such a friendly group of scientists was incredible, and what initially seemed like the scariest part of the week ended up being one of the most fun!

Since taking part in the program, my confidence has blossomed, both personally and professionally. A fun and useful poster session at CAS was great motivation to apply for other opportunities, both in my department and externally. Several poster sessions later, and I’ve received some really great advice from fellow chemists and made some connections to help with the rest of my PhD. Part of the program also involved trying out CAS products and providing feedback. Having someone genuinely interested in what you have to say, and making you feel like your opinion is worthwhile, was encouraging enough to completely cancel out the initial doubt and worry of being rejected in the first place.

So what happens when you apply and don’t get accepted? A few weeks ago, I received a rejection from a scholarship I’d applied for. After the initial period of self-doubt, you accept the situation, move on, and get ready to embrace new challenges. You can look for positive aspects of the experience, such as having an updated résumé and project summaries ready for the next application. And who knows? Maybe you’ll be accepted next time. You just need to put yourself out there and keep trying!

Emma Durham is currently a third year PhD student in the University of Cambridge studying organocatalysis, and was a SciFinder Future Leader (2016). As well as a love of scientific communication and popular science, in her rare time away from the lab she enjoys food tourism and cats. Follow her on Twitter at @EmmaDurhamChem.