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Saturday, 20 December 2008

Whisky - Chemical up-date from the RCS-Chemistry World

Quote: "Donnez de l'eau à un Ecossais, il fera du 12 ans d'age!"

"Give water to a Scot and he'll make a 12 year old mature malt whisky"

A materials chemist well worth knowing, especially at this time of year as the New Year 2009 approaches. Victoria "Gill" RCS, Editor at Chemistry World is well named for the article she wrote.

In "A Whisky Tour",
Victoria attempts to unlock some of the mysteries of Scotch malt whisky, and asks if whisky - Scotch to thze rest of the world, is the most chemically complicated drink in the world?

Put in a nut shell or should I say in a cask, whisky is a law in it's own right!

-The finely-tuned process of Scotch whisky production is governed by its own law -the Scotch Whisky Act
-There are 92 malt whisky distilleries in Scotland, and each one has a slightly different process with different stills, malts and casks for maturation
-Under the Act, Scotch whisky must be matured for at least three years, during which time the spirit reacts with compounds in the timber casks
-Chemists continue to study the complex effects of dilution on the sensory perception of whisky flavours.

Then some start their physical chemistry career studying bubbles in liquid steel publish in lessor known conference proceedings etc while others, more experienced, study bubbles in champagne, and publish via the ACS-American Chemical Society in no joking

SOUCE RCS Chemistry World

Bubbles in Champagne

Bubbles in Liquid Steel on Refractory surfaces
21. J. Alexander, G. S. F. Hazeldean and M. W. Davies: ‘Chemical Metallurgy of. Iron and Steel' 1973
Cited by:
(1)Smets S.; Parada S.; Weytjens J.; Heylen G.; Jones P.T.; Guo M.; Blanpain B.; Wollants P. in
Behaviour of magnesia-carbon refractories in vacuum-oxygen decarburisation ladle linings
(2) J. Alexander, G. S. F. Hazeldean, and M. W. Davies: "Chemical Metallurgy of. Iron and Steel", Iron and Steel Inst., London, 1973, p. 107. cited by
George Langford and Robert E. Cunningham in Steel casting by diffusion solidification

Monday, 10 November 2008

MELAMINE-New global slant- Materials, Substances and Poisons

This can only be considered a materials chemistry subject by some small stretch of the imagination.

The fact that a young blogger from the Philippines posted on melamine "in eggs" and the reported efforts by the Chinese officials to "erradicate all use of Melamine in the foodstock chain? " motivated me as a concerned scientist to speak-up on such themes. I found the global repercussions of this encouraging in terms of global health and safety.

Hopefully the "Melamine Case" may encourage all concerned chemists, scientists, experts in general, to take-up such worthy causes as fighting commercial abuse of science and chemistry, where ever they occur and so up-hold the values many of us share in choosing scientifically based careers.

I shall try not bore readers too much with the subject, which by now must have almost as many links on the web as Barack Obama, but not quite, perhaps unfortunately for this concerns human life right now?

As a chemist I ran my rapid Google search key words: Melamine Chemical Formula.

This turned up two noteworthy sites. 

The first in the list was Wikipedia which gives a very good encyclopedic rendering of the many melimine based materials, chemical compounds or substances and the poisonous effects with many excellent references to check and substantiate for the most sceptical.
images from Wikipedia

The question I asked myself was "Why in hell would anyone wish to use melamine - better known as a composant of glue - in food" The answer is fairly simple quoting from Wikipedia:

"Surplus melamine has been a popular adulterant for feedstock and baby formula in mainland China for several years now, because it can make diluted or poor quality material appear to be higher in protein content by elevating the total nitrogen content detected by some simple protein tests."

I shall not delve into this in any depth but one may pursue the questioning as to what National actions are taken following well published recommendations from say the USA's FDA-Food & Drug Administration, the European Union and of course from The WHO-World Health Organisation?

A well documented and popular account of melanine, the melamine scandal and follow-up measures is a cause which has being taken under the wing by D. Bradley in his well ranked blog Sciencebase.

Good luck David, I trust all the chemistry community will take heed and time for action in their daily duties and concerns.

It could well be that bloggers may have an ever increasing useful role to play in global affairs.

Bloggers can perhaps be more out-spoken than International Organisations who must respect rules of diplomacy and perhaps are major targets for powerful lobbying.


-Young concerned blogger from the Philippines posts on Melamine

-Melamine - Wikipedia

-Melamine - Sciencebase

-More concerns from the same Young blogger from the Philippines

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Conversations-on-Innovations: Forgotten Scientists? -"Should auld acquaintences be forgot and never brought to mind!"

Conversations-on-Innovations: Forgotten Scientists? -"Should auld acquaintences be forgot and never brought to mind!"

Nobel Chemistry 08 - Fluo Proteins - Biomarker -Dangerous and Chancey Business

Let me tell you this anecdote:

The 2008 Prize for chemistry brings to mind an Innocentive Challenge, to find a biomarker, for Charcot’s Disease – a still incurable type of sclerosis. This challenge, by the way, is still open to the end of the current year, from memory, and is now supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. I echoed this at the time; for the importance of the subject and the equivalent highest award of all Innocentive challenge rewards. In my humbler case it was essentially for marketing purposes-a good thing to do, to help in any small way. It was impossible for me to do more than help a foreign contribution via my english mother tongue. I really took “cold feet” when reading a case study in the ENBIS (European Network for Business and Industrial Statistics) pages of Scientific Computing World-Europa Science. The ENBIS Case concerned a biomarker for something, maybe Alzeimer, something serious in any case. To an innocent novice, such as I, I felt that a biomarker would be less dangerous than a the drug itself. Well, injected into a wee rat - the rat “kicked the bucket” ie died. Injected into our close cousin the pig – it got an unpleasant skin rash, so it was said. Result? This biomarker was abandoned for any human trials.

Funny how the mind can be stimulated by taking any small step forward. This anecdote is just to give the news reader some idea just how serious, difficult and often ungrateful, biomedical-biochemistry can be.

The prestigious 10 million Swedish crown ($1.4 million) prize recognized Osamu Shimomura of Japan and Americans Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien for their discovery of the protein GFP. The the Nobel Committee for Chemistry at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' statement said:
"The remarkable brightly glowing green fluorescent protein, GFP, was first observed in the beautiful jellyfish, Aequorea victoria in 1962,".

"Since then, this protein has become one of the most important tools used in contemporary bioscience. With the aid of GFP, researchers have developed ways to watch processes that were previously invisible, such as the development of nerve cells in the brain or how cancer cells spread."

Chalfie picked up on the discovery to demonstrate the value of GFP as a genetic tag for biological phenomena and Tsien extended the color palette beyond green, allowing scientists to follow several different biological processes at the same time.

SCIENCE (certainly) AND ART?

The strong green color of the jellyfish protein appears under blue and ultraviolet light, allowing researchers to illuminate cancer tumors, show the development of Alzheimer's disease in the brain or the growth of harmful bacteria. GFP has been used for art as well as for science. A green-glowing bunny named Alba was made in 2000 at the request of Chicago artist Eduardo Kac and green-glowing pigs have been gene engineered and bred to make green-glowing piglets!

Incredible cf. Anecdote above. Reminds me also of Dolly the sheep, 1st known sucessive clone.

Other Posts on Nobel Prizes 2008

-Yahoo News By Niklas Pollard (Editing by Angus MacSwan)
-Innocentive. ENBIS.
-SCW - Scientific Computing World - Europa Science.

NOBEL PRIZE AWARDS -2008 Fathers of Invention II -

Biochemistry and Nanotechnology are two areas tipped for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

The Nobel prize Winners, the elected few in the heady rarefied atmosphere of the highest summits of scientific endeavour reached and the national flag firmly planted. The "Nobel Class" all surely highly eminent, deserving candidates. "Losers?" often applied undeservedly in the world of sport etc (note the order - not "the sporting world-or sports world") The word "looser is obviously hardly applicable. I logged a post in my "conversations" blog_link html on the "human angle" with one recent and currently open wound example-in the medical field. A day latter I had news that a support committee will be formed to tell as best as possible the full story to this great research break-through. Great, all have certainly made remarkable contributions.

Better I hope to improve my own approach to honouring science. In fact an excellent way is to have the full list of candidates and their main contribution - the detail will drown the ordinary even the most highly educated reader.

Here is one prognostic "Biochem. or Nanotech-em"? -Other?:

If the vote sway in favour of Biochemistry, Americans Stuart Schreiber and Gerald Crabtree are among potential candidates for pioneering work in chemical biology, shedding light on how tiny molecules can be used on cell circuits and signaling pathways.

On the other hand if the prize honours nanotechnology, sways towards the European continent, possible winners could include British (Scottish) chemist James Fraser Stoddart or again to Asia-Pacific, Japan's Sumio Iijima, who discovered carbon nanotubes in 1991. who needs no introduction to the materials chemistry and materials science, technology & engineering communities.

Good luck all whatever the outcome.

Comments welcome, "No-Holds-Bard".


Yahoo News

Wikipedia: James Fraser Stoddart

Wikipedia: Stuart Schreiber and Gerald Crabtree

Wikipedia Sumio Iijima

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

NOBEL PRIZE AWARDS -2008 "Poetry to the Ears & Father of Invention"

Calling all Scientists! "Check and grab the Nobel Prize Widget for your blogs, websites and enjoy the lates Nobel news.

ref: Nobel Prize Organisation

Friday, 5 September 2008

Scientists from St Andrews Univ. Accomplished One of the Big Quests in Nanotechnology_Widely acclaimed

Nanotechnology at St. Andrews : click to enlarge photo right.

At long last, this news has given me the opportunity and the necessary motivation to post on what I discovered to be one of the most prominent Scottish Universities active in Materials Chemistry, EaStCHEM School of Chemistry, University of St Andrews.

My under-achievement dates from the blogs creation and first posts 22-23 Feb. 2008, concerning the issue of defining what the field of Materials Chemistry encompasses and what it does not. cf my first post, materials-chemistry-defined .

Here, the work in the Nanotechnology, Materials Chemistry field was first submitted to the Journal Nature, Received 3 December 2007,
Accepted 9 May 2008 and published 31 July 2008. Several commentators echoed this achievement by the team from The Univ. of St Andrews based on The University news release.

(Incidentally and surprisingly the original paper in Nature was the hardest to find via the Internet, perhaps fortunately, due to the highly specialised nature of the work and its specialised title. Ref. in footnote below for follow-up, if required, by the more specialised scientists, technologists and engineers. I for one may not have stumbled upon this work, so much for the critics of "scientific vulgarisation" whatever that is?)

(eg Fig.1 from Nature and detail cf. right and below:
a–c, Structures of melamine (a) and PTCDI (b) and the bonding motif (c). d, Schematic diagram of the network with the unit cell indicated by a dotted rhombus. e, STM image of network recorded in ambient conditions. The dashed line A highlights a fault line. Circled areas B and C mark a pore hosting a PTCDI molecule and a missing PTCDI molecule, respectively. The (73 73)R30° unit cell (D) corresponding to a 35-Å period of the honeycomb is also indicated. The inset shows a Fourier transform. Scale bar, 10 nm. ) Photo links to full size images are available on Natures online site, full links below.

My blog post title "Scientists from St Andrews Univ. Accomplished One of the Big Quests in Nanotechnology' was taken from the following reports more easily read than the paper in Nature, especially by a wider public. The work is described by the research team, contact Dr. Manfred Buck and relayed by several reporters as:
A crucial step in developing minuscule structures with application potential in sophisticated sensors, catalysis, and nanoelectronics has been developed by Scottish researchers. This reached my ears echoed by Danish Colleagues at NILT.

My summary, below, is taken largely from Australian based, AZONANO - AZOM Group Posted August 28th, 2008 , who follow very closely the Universities news release: journalistically entitled a "Big step in tiny technology"

Other commentators have followed the Universities news release: "Big step in tiny technology" These include:-
Media Newswire
Materialsgate, Germany
No 5 on University500 news
NONOVIP Intl Business Directory Submitted by University of St Andrews, Admin on August 30, 2008.

It certainly looks as though The Univ. of St Andrews means business!

The following is my abbreviated SUMMARY:

"Dr Manfred Buck and his team at the University of St Andrews have accomplished one of the big quests in nanotechnology, opening up an exciting new development in tiny technology.
The St Andrews researchers have developed a way of forming an easily modified network of molecules over a large area - the chemical technique provides an advantageous alternative to traditional methods which become increasingly cumbersome at the ultra small length scale.

The key to the development lies in the creation of robust and versatile surface - self-assembling structures just one molecule thick which can be exploited for further control and manipulation of nanostructures.

1/10000 of the diameter of a human hair:
"The potential of this approach lies in its flexibility on a scale, about 1/10000 of the diameter of a human hair. Using molecules as building units, the features of our structures are less than 5 nanometres in size, which enables us to control structures and materials at dimensions where new properties emerge."

Non-Negligible Advantages claimed:
-It works under ambient conditions.
-No sophisticated equipment or special environment - such as a high vacuum - required,
-Easily accessible and adaptable for a wide range of applications.
-The chemical method provides an alternative route to nanostructures created by conventional lithography, which inscribes patterns into surfaces but struggles to be precise on a scale of a few nanometres.

The Method Used to Produce The Structures:
-Solution-based chemistry (ambient temperature-room temperature)
-Self-assembly or SAM's - Self Assembly Systems.

Solution-based chemistry works by assembling molecules into tiny dimples, themselves created when molecules self-assemble into a honeycomb-shaped network on a gold surface.

Some Fundamental Chemistry Considerations:
Such a so-called supra-molecular network is held together by hydrogen bonds -a type of bonding also essential for DNA - and acts as a template to control the arrangement of other molecules.

"In the short term, this development provides us with an easily accessible platform for fundamental studies of phenomena on the ultra-small scale," according to the inventor, Dr Buck .
Gazing into the Future:
"In the future, we might be able to use this technology for the assembly of 'nanomachines', molecular devices used to transport and manipulate molecules and nanometer sized objects," he concluded.

The research is published by The Journal Nature; Letter Nature 454, 618-621 (31 July 2008) doi:10.1038/nature07096; Received 3 December 2007; Accepted 9 May 2008 under the title:

Functionalising hydrogen-bonded surface networks with self-assembled monolayers
Rafael Madueno1,2, Minna T. Räisänen1, Christophe Silien1 & Manfred Buck1
1. EaStCHEM School of Chemistry, University of St Andrews, North Haugh, St Andrews KY16 9ST, UK
2. Present address: Departamento de Química Física, Universidad de Córdoba, Campus de Rabanales, 14014 Cordoba, Spain.

Figs, Tables & Images are also available to subscribers [Link].
Generation of a network–SAM hybrid structure.

Nature's Editor adds the following helpful introduction to the subject

Dr. Manfred Buck and his team at the University of St. Andrews have succeeded in forming and modifying networks of molecules over large areas. The key to the development lies in the creation of robust and versatile surfaces of self-assembling structures just one molecular layer thick which can be exploited for further control and manipulation of nanostructures. The aim is to get exact control over the arrangement of molecules - ultimately at the level of single molecules. Using molecules as building blocks, the features of the structures are less than 5 nanometres in size making this method a strong alternative route to nanostructures created by conventional lithography.
7 other related hand-picked news below.

These links to content published by NPG are automatically generated.

Nanotechnology Patterns from molecular corrals
Nature News and Views (31 Jul 2008, same issue as above) GERMANY
Nanotechnology: Patterns from molecular corrals
Michael Grunze1 of Department of Applied Physical Chemistry, University of Heidelberg, INF 253, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.

Many nanotechnology devices will require components that consist of arrays of molecules positioned on surfaces with nanometre precision. One way to make these is to let the molecules organize themselves.
A major challenge in nanotechnology is to find a way of positioning molecules and atoms on surfaces in regular patterns, with nanometre precision yet over large
surface areas. Reporting on page 618 of this issue, Madueno et al.1 describe just such a method.

Controlling molecular deposition and layer structure with supramolecular surface assemblies
Nature Letters to Editor (28 Aug 2003)
Electrochemically assisted self-assembly of mesoporous silica thin films
Nature Materials Article (01 Aug 2007) FRANCE
1.Laboratoire de Chimie Physique et Microbiologie pour l'Environnement, URM 7564, CNRS–Nancy University, 405, rue de Vandoeuvre, F-54600 Villers-lès-Nancy, France
2.Service commun de microscopie électronique, Faculté des Sciences, Nancy University, BP 239, F-54506 Vandoeuvre Cedex, France

Spontaneous assembly of subnanometre-ordered domains in the ligand shell of monolayer-protected nanoparticles
Nature Materials Article (01 May 2004) USA.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, MIT, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA
Steering molecular organization and host?guest interactions using two-dimensional nanoporous coordination systems
Nature Materials Letter (01 Apr 2004) INTER-MULTI_NATIONAL COOPERATION
1. Max-Planck-Institut für Festkörperforschung, Heisenbergstrasse 1, D-70569 Stuttgart, Germany
2. Institut de Physique des Nanostructures, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
3. Department of Chemistry and Center for Materials Chemistry, University of Houston, Houston, Texas 77204-5003, USA
4. Advanced Materials and Process Engineering Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

PNAS newsletter_ Sulfur Cycle and Global Climate Change_Maritime Transportation & Governance Warned

NB. PNAS: Publications of the National Academy of Science, USA.

Although not on the expected scale of land transportation's contribution to climate change by the International Panel on Climate Change - IPCC, the following paper on maritime transportation related role in the sulphur cycle and climate change is worth noting: ref. "Discovery and measurement of an isotopically distinct source of sulfate in Earth's atmosphere" by
Gerardo Dominguez, Terri Jackson, Lauren Brothers, Burton Barnett, Bryan Nguyen, and
Mark H. Thiemens* the latter * is the contributing author.

The paper was published online before print August 27, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0805255105 PNAS September 2, 2008 vol. 105 no. 35 12769-12773 and brought to my attention via PNAS online newsletter.

The abstract may be found via PNAS newsletter link. which also provides some main points of interest for the chemical community and radiation measurement comunities.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Chemists Without Borders: Social Innovation Conversations: Heather McLeod Grant

Chemists Without Borders: Social Innovation Conversations: Heather McLeod Grant

This is my first link towards meeting my objective of linking to chemistry, (materials, physics, maths...) blogs world wide especially materials related as in materials chemistry.

I feel that it is particularily fitting that this is be via a sort of Franco (several comments in french)-Scots link "Chemists without Borders" and a post by a very Scottish name "Heather McLeod Grant" Encouraging approach indeed, much echoed in France, as diverse "Associations sans Frontières-without borders" in the hard sciences, Engineering etc...

Please do not hestitate to comment, send your science blog suggestions, questions and other. NB. In my blog the focus is materials chemistry but I currently manage three others
"Conversations on Innovations, "No_Holds_Bard (poems by scientists) and Metallurgy & Materials Science & Engineering". Links may be found by visiting my Profile.
Perhaps your input may lead to further individual or co-operative, associative blogs?

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

No_Holds_Bard: First Response to John Updike's famous Poem "Cosmic Gall"#links#links#links#links

No_Holds_Bard: First Response to John Updike's famous Poem "Cosmic Gall"#links#links#links#links NB. These poems were inspired by the discovery of the Neutrino, (1953) later attribute the Nobel Prize in Physics (1995) shared by the Chemist, the late Clyde L. Cowan Jr. notably, a survivor of WWII and officer buried in Arlington Military Cemetry.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Archived posts by others

Archived Posts from this Category
Wed 31 Oct 2007
Nanotubes bounce bullets… in theoryPosted by Jon under News , nanotechnology

ref. source RSC's Chemistry World Blog

Jon recommends that we check out Nanotechproject from Pew-Woodrow Wilson Centre for Scholars for more on how we should combat bad nanoscience.

Repeat pointer Nanoproject :
The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies was established in April 2005 as a partnership between the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The Project is dedicated to helping ensure that as nanotechnologies advance, possible risks are minimized, public and consumer engagement remains strong, and the potential benefits of these new technologies are realized.


Mon 24 Sep 2007
Big help for tiny technology Posted by Jon under nanotechnology
The University of Massachusetts Amherst and partners have announced the launch of the National Nanomanufacturing Network (NNN), funded by the National Science Foundation. This open access network will allow academic, governmental and industrial bodies to share information and collaborate on nanomanufacturing projects, and provides an online “clearinghouse” for new ideas and research.
Meanwhile, a Royal Society-led committee has released a proposed draft of the “Responsible NanoCode”, a voluntary set of guidelines aimed at standardising the operation of nanotechnology-centred organisations. The seven principles detailed include procedures involding operational, environmental and ethical responsibility, compiled by representatives from many different organisations.

Conversations on Innovations: Sage Publications Free Access to 30 April 2008#links

Conversations on Innovations: Sage Publications Free Access to 30 April 2008#links

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

From Biomaterials to Biomanufacturing Today & the Next 10-50years of Materials Chemistry & Materials Science

In my earlier post (cf. Saturday, 8 March 2008 Introduction to RSC's Journal of Materials Chemistry below) I reported the 13 fields defined by the RSC for their contributors to (& readers of) their journal the "Journal of Materials Chemistry":

From the defined 13 main fields the first was:

1.BiomaterialsIncluding reviews on drug delivery, implants and bio-mimetic synthesis.

It also transpired from my very first posts which kicked off this web-log series, (Friday, 22 February 2008 "Materials Chemistry Defined" & web-log on this subject on Monday, September 17, 2007. on my original log: "Conversations-on-Innovations". that application - applied science, are major motivations for Materials Chemists.

Applications and their scientific foundations obviously under-pin the "Conversations" themes of my very first web-logs. It follows that the recent Roadmap report from MIT, via NIST Tech Beat text below, may be of primordial interest to the entrepreneurial faction of the materials chemistry, materials science and engineering professions. Finally, before you read the text or visit the MIT pdf file, let me add that the importance of Roadmaps in "all fields" has been increasing in my mind and since my recent refs ( "The Top Ten Advances in Materials Science & What will define the next 50 years of Materials Science? THE MATERIALS TODAY ROADMAP CHALLENGE
["THE MATERIALS TODAY CHALLENGE - In Search of Materials Science Foresight- Road Maps throughout the next 50years!" recorded also in "Conversations-[link]" I shall treat these themes as often as possible

TEXT: "New Report Outlines Research Roadmap for Bio-manufacturing
On-line process tools, improved sensor calibration and analytical and data analysis methods are among the technological challenges facing the bio manufacturing industry over the next 10 years to greatly increase manufacturing efficiency for protein drugs while ensuring safety, according to industry, government and academic experts.
The analysis was developed during a special brainstorming session as part of the annual meeting of the International Foundation for Process Analytical Chemistry (IFPAC) held at the end of January. Representatives from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Institutes for Health (NIH), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) co-chaired a session to develop a vision for the future of bio-manufacturing that attracted representatives from pharmaceutical companies, vendors, academia, research and development labs and other interested parties.
These improved measurement standards and technologies are essential initial steps towards the group’s “blue sky vision” for the future of bio-manufacturing. In this vision, bio-reactors will mimic the cellular signaling and regulation systems of higher order living systems by regulating nutrients and waste with built in mechanisms to allow real-time analysis and control of fermentation, monitor metabolism and impact of variables within the system.
The group detailed some of the challenges facing the industry over the next 10 years and announced their intention to stimulate discussion and cooperation among stakeholders, including the federal government, academia, and research interests, as a way to address those technological and scientific hurdles.
The team also planned future sessions for the rest of the year, including conferences and site visits scheduled for the summer and fall of 2008 and further workshops to set research priorities during the fall of 2008. "

To read the full report, see IFPAC 2008: A 10 year Vision for Biotechnology Manufacturing Session

Good reading.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

A big chunk of Mat-Chem is about energy related topics such as Batteries & Fuel Cells

The article entitled "In search of the perfect battery" freely available online in The Economists 12 March 08 gives a good historical background and consumers view of the state of the art. I feel it is a good complement to the more fundamental issues in defining Materials Chemistry. This is equally relevant to the interdisciplinary roles played by Metallurgists-Corrosion Specialist, Materials Scientists & Engineers.

Looking forward to comments and suggestions, listing your own blogs on the progress of the materials sciences and their underlying chemical and physical foundations. They fully merit the excellent translation, of big media & more, especially for their economic and social role in these days of the the trials and tribulations of civilisations.

Good reading.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Introduction to RSC's Journal of Materials Chemistry

Biodiversity, variety may be
the spice of life
and arguably the mother (code?)
of invention,
too much brain dispersion may become
to any over-ambitious

Since opening these posts, I have been asking myself, if it would be wiser to look more at science and engineering definitions in the same way as the RSC's Materials Chemists did in order to get the wider picture of scientific & technological endeavour, and undoubted scientific progress and highlight specifically the Materials Scientists role in this, using for example my house journal Materials World from IOM3 and twenty or so scientific journals published by IOM3 & Maney Press available worldwide, online to members of the Materials Science Institute (IOM3) as a guide ? Suggestion welcome.

Also I have had a constant niggling that really, I ought to be looking first and foremost at the my own “Metallurgy, Materials, Minerals & Mining Sciences & Technologies, Institute IOM3 and their work and interests, with more commitment. The corpus of online member material-Twenty or so dedicated scientific journals to the above mentionned themes- is well deserving of support and commentry within the wider "paysage" of application, engineering and acknowledgement by society in general in an ever increasing interconnected world.

It has bothered me to find a number of Chemistry bloggers but apparently few Metallurgists and Material Scientists whom I would like to reference in blog links etc. OK, exception made of course for all concerning Nano etc. mostly by physicists chemists, electronics & optical engineers & instrumentalists…

(Cheers in passing are to the Institute of Physics (IOP ) for their many journals and especially for their availability "free-for-one-month" online efforts to be used, may I recall, with due respect and acknowledgement of the scientists who agree to this procedure)

That being said, I have decided in “my minds eye” to list the RSC’s list of main themes for their Journal of Materials Chemistry to borrow the expression “my minds eye” from the Scots poet Hugh MacDiarmid, who has also been self-described as "a person where extreme’s meet.”

From The following list of materials chemistry themes has been taken from the RSC journal I believe that will be clear that Materials Chemists and Materials Scientist, will have a lot on their plates in order to meet the high expectations not only of their interdisciplinary peers but also those of Society in general, “Where extremes meet ”!

Journal of Materials Chemistry Review Articles published by the RSC some of which are freely available to non-members.

Further information on the details of “defining materials chemistry” & therefore “the breadth of materials science” is given in the JMCR defined targets for publication. There are three types of reviews specifically materials chemistry orientated:

Applications, Highlights and Feature Articles.

-Applications are interdisciplinary reviews covering the properties and applications of a class of materials. Applications may report new emerging areas of materials application of interest to the materials chemistry community.
-Highlights are short articles that highlight important new developments made in materials chemistry over the past year.
-Feature Articles bring the reader up-to-date with advances in research in a particular field. Key areas of progress and future issues to be addressed are discussed.
From the body of papers published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry throughout 2005-2007, RSC have defined 13 main fields as follows:

Including reviews on drug delivery, implants and bio-mimetic synthesis
2. Composite materials
Including reviews on metal-organic frameworks, organic-inorganic hybrid materials, and biological composites
3. Electronic materials
Including reviews on organic field effect transistors, molecular conductors and conducting polymers
4. Films, layers and coatings
Including reviews on thin film deposition, self-cleaning coatings and porous films
5. Liquid crystals
Including reviews on bent-core liquid crystals, supra-molecular liquid crystals and liquid crystal elastomers
6. Magnetic materials
Including reviews on molecular magnetism, nano-magnetism and magneto-optic materials
7. Materials for energy applications
Including reviews on materials for fuel cells, batteries and solar cells
8. Nanotechnology
Including reviews on anisotropic nanomaterials, carbon nanotubes and applications of nanomaterials
9. Optical materials
Including reviews on electrochromic materials, non-linear optics and fluorescent sensors
10. Polymers and macromolecules
Including reviews on conjugated polymers, stimuli responsive polymers and polymer processing
11. Porous materials
Including reviews on mesoporous silica, porous metals and the applications of porous materials
12. Solid state inorganic materials
Including reviews on layered double hydroxides, oxides and crystallography
13. Theoretical Including reviews on theoretical studies involving nanomaterials, clays and biominerals

Rapid advance in fundamental understanding, measurement and manipulation tooling at minute dimension, better known the general public as "all things Nano-" (10^-9) the predominantly "bottom-up approach of the materials chemist-scientists harbours great expectations.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Origins of "The Material Chemists"

I first web-logged this subject on Monday, September 17, 2007. on "Conversations-on-Innovations".

As a (well) trained metallurgist and materials scientist (chemical-processes & physical-products), I was surprised that Defining Materials Chemistry was an issue, and indeed one which interested the RSC-the Royal Institute of Chemistry, UK-GB and the IUPAC-International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry cf below.

I decided to look more closely into this matter, as far as possible, from the pure & applied chemists view point. Indeed I gained useful insights into the nature of materials in relation to chemical building blocks, atoms, molecules and substances. I also decided to find out specifically what the workshop members where involved in, and in so doing;

-learn more of the specific and specialised chemical contribution to the Material Sciences, Technologies & their Engineering into products,

-learn of the Material Chemists interdisciplinary and pluridisciplinary preoccupations, the common lot of Metallurgists & Material Scientists, especially those, most of us, who have worked in an industrial context: R&D-To-Market, and even personnel management, in a word survival!

-share my "update-experience" by starting a web-log on the subject - these subjects.

-justify time spent, to some small extent, by accepting publicity, mostly AdSense, for adding content due to its appropriate-highly relevant targeting- not to mention the simplicity of its use.

For a wider more open approach cf. "Conversations-on-Innovations" "a wee theory of everything" approach, which has served to generate a number of ideas/concepts worthy of further development. Underlying my web-logs is my deep interest in the major problems facing people and nations globally, planet sustainability and the roles science, scientific method, technology and engineering can play "to mitigate man's legitimate quest for the good-life."

Why choose "The Material Chemists" as a title, you may ask?

Well at this point I am not sure what my contribution to the subject maybe. At this point, I surmise that it may be easier to speak about people and their work in general terms, than the intricacies of their subject(s)-their specialisms, its underlying theory.

Naturally, I would be pleased if "the material(s) chemists" in particular and of course related scientists, technologists, engineers & society in general, find the standards to their liking and contribute if only to reach a wider audience "the global blogosphere"...

Let's recal the conclusions of the RSC meeting in London, 2007, since they have a strong significance in Materials Science, Technology & Engineering in general.

Materials Chemistry is:

- the chemistry of the design, synthesis and characterisation of assemblies of molecules whose properties arise from interactions between them.

- the understanding, synthesis, processing and exploitation of compounds or substances in their assembled form.

-the synthesis, processing, characterisation, understanding and exploitation of compounds that have useful or potentially useful properties and applications.

Since application can be a prime element in motivation, typical areas in which materials chemist work are listed as follows

Areas of application cover:

-structures or functions

-designing and processing

-Characterisation and analysis

NB. “The Key to progress in the defining of materials chemistry was to define what constitutes a material in contrast to just a chemical".

This appears to have been achieved and a succesful conclusion reached at the London workshop.

A fuller account was given in the previous post "Materials Chemistry Defined"

Friday, 22 February 2008

Materials Chemistry Defined

I first web-logged this subject on Monday, September 17, 2007. on "Conversations-on-Innovations".

NB. The pdf -ebook papers referenced below, are no longer available to the reader as previously, via the Royal Society for Chemistry RSC website. Perhaps RSC, will make the pdf workshop papers permanently available. The cost of computer memory is hardly prohibitive!

I trust this site will help further the cause of Materials Science and Materials Chemistry and their ultimate building "blokes" the Scientists & Chemists themselves and their end product "their planetary markets."

In spite of the above criticism on availability of background-materials, an important step forward, to define Materials Chemistry, was taken by The Royal Society for Chemistry (RSC) at the Sept 12, 2006, workshop. The workshop brought together almost 50 delegates, leading experts in the field and published online 5 pre-workshop presentations, free to download making a valuable ebook on the subject. The practising experts, renowned Chemists, Materials Scientists, Technologists and Engineers confronted with the problems arising within the materials and chemical sciences, technologies and engineering drew up key questions and attempted to provide adequate answers.

The rational and the thought processes which arose during the meeting are in themselves highly instructive and educational.

-Questions such as why focus on Materials Chemistry?
-What distinguishes Materials Chemistry from simple chemical substances?
-Define materials chemistry in a few words
and give some examples of areas of research that should be included.
-Should there be a distinction between functional and structural materials in the definition?
-Does materials chemistry cover both?
-What is the difference between materials chemistry and materials science?
-What is not materials chemistry?
-What should not be included in the definition.

Why focus on Materials Chemistry?
Within the broad family of chemical sciences, it transpires that an increasingly high percentage of publications are classified as Materials Chemistry (cf. Leonard V. Interrante's presentation, Link in Pdf format)
laying claim to the stature of a distinct discipline, in practice involving multi-disciplinary or interdisciplinary skills.

The need for a definition.

The inherent complexity involved makes the task of defining the subject equally complex and therefore even more necessary in order to express the ideas, concepts and science involved as succinctly as possible, to further the recognition of the discipline in itself and so provide assistance to publishers and funding agencies.

In the words of Peter Day who asks rhetorically,

“Why bother about definitions? “
And gives the following reply
“- For clarity: a new cross-cutting discipline
-To give materials chemistry a place in the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) "
Cf. P. Day’s presentation, Link in Pdf format

NB. IUPAC Link Compendium of Chemical Terminology

Material Chemistry Defined?

To date the discipline has developed organically and to a large extent, the common idea of what constitutes materials chemistry is circularly linked to the type of work done by “materials chemists”.

Typical areas in which materials chemist work are as follows:
-application can be a prime element in motivation
-Areas of application cover:
-structural or functional
-designing and processing materials
-Characterisation and analysis

What is a Material?

It emerged that “The Key to progress in the defining of materials chemistry was to define what constitutes a material in contrast to just a chemical.

In the words of Paul O’Brien

‘So when does chemistry become materials chemistry?
Materials chemistry must, pedantically, have something to do with a material as
opposed to a chemical.’

O’Brian goes on to illustrate this by quoting from the eminent Metallurgist Robert W. Cahn’s book ‘The Coming of Materials Science’, (p253) Ed. Pergammon, Oxford, 2001.

“The key to understanding the formation of p and n type semiconducting material came from careful work in which metallurgists correlated properties with traces of dopants. One of the key features of the properties of semiconductors is that conventionally chemically and crystallographically identical samples can have different properties because of traces of group 3 or 5 dopants." R. W. Cahn.

The dictionary defines a material as “a physical substance from which things can be made from”, quite unsuitable for the aims of such a workshop whose members represent the material chemistry community, whose practise today involves long years of study and practice, whose responsibility involves publishing, peer reviewing, advising on and facilitating access to funding, defining the fields within the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry. A more technical and profound definition was obviously called for.

Should there be a distinction between functional and structural materials in our definition?

The experts considered the following

Concepts Essential to Define Materials “chemistry”

-Structure & properties
-Design ( refers to design at the atomic or molecular level)

For example:
A material has properties which give it a particular useful application,
structural, as with a building material,
functional, as with materials used to make devices.
(Electronic, optical or magnetic)

Duncan W. Bruce gave examples of liquid crystal materials chemistry including markets, basic molecular structures and the functions for which these materials are used. Link_Pdf format


A material is generally thought of as an organised phase where interactions between particles play a large role, although clearly there are cases where amorphous phases are also crucial..

Material versus Chemical Substance
The properties of a material emerge from the way these sub-units are put together:
-Whilst a single molecule will have properties related to its chemical
structure which remain constant, the properties of a material are dependent on how its sub-units are assembled.

Properties can, and as in Metallurgy, often, arise from structural defects (materials made of the same chemical sub-units can have different properties e.g. the properties of polymers for example depend on their supramolecular and meso/morphological structure.

The relationship between structure and property could be used to define a material and differentiate it from a chemical.

Compare for example:
-a material would be a nano-tube, whose properties will vary depending on its structure.
-a molecule of benzoic acid, which is a chemical whose properties are related only to its chemical make-up.

The difference between materials science and materials chemistry

There are areas of contention when trying to define the sub-discipline materials chemistry.

Would catalysis be considered part of the field?

Homogeneous catalysis would certainly not fit the definition but would heterogeneous catalysis? The synthesis of certain types of novel catalyst materials could fit parameters by which materials chemistry has been described.

Materials chemistry does share some (many?) common elements with Materials Science with perhaps differences in scale?

But often the scale of elements studied differ, with materials chemistry being concerned with a molecular understanding of materials, whilst materials science looking at a larger scale.

Materials chemistry can be concerned with properties up to the micron scale.

It must be recognised that there is a big overlap and many materials scientists will be working to the same end as many materials chemists. Materials chemistry certainly requires an understanding of the principles of both chemistry and materials science and sometimes physics and biology.

The interdisciplinary nature of the work is an important element that may differentiate materials chemistry from general chemistry but strengthens its relationship with material science.

What is not materials chemistry:

Synthesising any material was not materials chemistry but
just chemical synthesis. Synthesis is a major part of what chemists do.

The sub-discipline materials chemistry must include an element of
application, function or novel design that is beyond the simple chemical reactivity of
the species in question.


Design refers to design at the atomic or molecular level, design at a greater length scale becomes Materials Science and Engineering. Work on novel materials that may show potential applications must be included as materials chemistry as chemists may generate new types of materials with previously unknown properties leading to unimagined applications

Conceptual maps [Link TBD]

The following conceptual map outlines are
-Chemistry subject map
-Materials chemistry subject map

Some working definitions of materials chemistry

“Chemistry related to the preparation, processing and analysis of materials”*

• Preparation: The synthesis of new materials; development of improved routes to known materials
• Processing: modifying materials to enhance their utility (e.g., dying, coating, nano-particle
generation, etc. )
• Analysis: everything from characterization of structure at multiple length scales to the
theoretical interpretation of behaviour
*L.V. Interrante, “Materials Chem, a New Sub-discipline”, MRS Bulletin, Jan., 1992, p. 4.

Chemistry of Advanced Materials - Ch 1: Introductory Terms and Concepts
The definition of materials as “substances having properties which
make them useful in machinery, structures, devices and products*”, connects materials with function and through that function, utility
*M. Cohen, Ed., Mats. Sci. & Eng.: Its Evolution, Practice and Prospects; Mater. Sci. Eng. 37(1) (1974); M.B. Bever, Encyclopedia of Mats. Sci. & Eng., Vol. 1,(1986)

Selected Results from a Google Search for Materials Chemistry

• Univ. Wisconsin Chemistry website
– Materials Chemistry can be defined as the branch of chemistry aimed at the preparation,
characterization, and understanding of substances/systems that have some specific useful function (or potentially useful function)
• Washington Univ. Chemistry website
– Materials chemistry involves the synthesis and study of materials that have interesting and potentially useful electronic, magnetic, optical, and mechanical
• Univ. of Oregon Chemistry website
– Materials chemistry is a relatively new discipline centered on the rational synthesis of novel functional materials using a large array of existing and new synthetic methods

Summary of working definition of materials chemistry as suggested at the workshop.

Materials Chemistry is:

- the chemistry of the design, synthesis and characterisation of assemblies of molecules whose properties arise from interactions between them.

- is the understanding, synthesis, processing and exploitation of compounds or substances in their assembled form.

- is the synthesis, processing, characterisation, understanding and exploitation of compounds that have useful or potentially useful properties and applications.

The RSC Workshop ebook may be downloaded at the following links:

Material Chemistry Maps (Paul O’Brian)Link Pdf format

Why bother about definitions? (Peter Day)Link Pdf format

Liquid Crystals by Duncan W.Bruce, Link Pdf format

IUPAC's role by Tony West, Link Pdf format

Statistics, References to Materials Chemistry... by Leonard V. Interrante, Link Pdf format