A Quick Peek Into Computational Chemistry

When talking about chemists, what image comes to your mind? Labs, tubes, beakers, colorful solutions, turning dirt into gold... Yes, yes, those images represent some parts of chemistry in a general way, but did you know that there exists a group of chemists whose main task is to code? (For example, check out this video.) …

Engineered Nanoparticles Change Shape in Soil and Groundwater

Engineered nanoparticles (NPs) are now components of thousands of consumer products, including personal care products, sporting goods, solar panels, and next-generation batteries. In fact, demand for electric car batteries (built using lithium-nickel-cobalt nanosheets) might cause lithium prices to skyrocket in the coming decade, and completely change the way in which the element lithium is recovered …

Carbon Nanotubes: the Next Generation of Global Water Purification?

My typical day (maybe like yours) involves waking up, taking a 10 minute shower, cooking breakfast, running the dishwasher if it’s full, going to work, eating dinner with a refreshing glass of filtered water, and maybe tackling a load of laundry in the evening. None of these actions feel extravagant, but when I look at …

Nano Contaminants: How Nanoparticles Get Into the Environment

Nanoparticles and the Environment Series, Part I (click here for part II) More than a year ago on this site, I talked to you about how nanoparticles were already all around us, and have been for most of human history. That day, I was hoping to show you that while nanotechnology may sound cool and …

Hidden Life in Pond Water

While a tablespoon of pond water might look quite devoid of life, a closer look reveals quite the opposite. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIMJWWpOrjw Though they may be difficult to spot with the naked eye, that doesn't mean they're not important or amazing. Here are some of the amazing critters shown in that video and some interesting facts about each. …

Fungus Amongus – the Nanoparticle Producers

Recent discoveries continue to highlight the many uses of that wonderful kingdom of life, fungus.  Penicillin, a group of antibiotics that changed medicine forever, is derived from the Penicillium fungi (taken from a moldy cantaloupe in an Illinois market). These antibiotics have saved countless lives since WWII and are still in use today. Yeast, perhaps …

Exhortations for Responsible Action*

Bassam Z. Shakhashiri Professor of Chemistry The William T. Evjue Distinguished Chair for the Wisconsin Idea Director, Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy Department of Chemistry University of Wisconsin-Madison It was a privilege and a great honor to serve as president of the American Chemical Society in 2012. Only two other UW-Madison faculty members have served …

Cleaning without chemicals? Part I – The use and hazards of traditional cleaning chemicals

This is part one of a two (maybe three…definitely four at the most) part series What motivated me to explore the chemical world of cleaning? Is it possible to have nice smelling armpits without lathering up some soap in the shower? Can we permanently get rid of those traditional cleaning chemicals that almost everyone has …

New Filter Gives Drinking Water a Silver Lining

The next time that you go to your sink and pour a glass of water, take a second to think about what’s in it. It likely has a little bit of chlorine, some fluoride for your teeth, and small amounts of minerals—but most importantly it has no appreciable amount of nasty disease-causing pathogens or toxic …