Adding new buzz to controversial insecticide

A team of US chemists has found a way to make the insecticide imidacloprid more effective, claiming that its faster-acting forms of the insecticide could be used in smaller amounts, reducing its exposure to the environment. Imidacloprid is widely used around the world to control insect populations on crops, as well as reduce disease-carrying mosquitoes … Continue reading Adding new buzz to controversial insecticide

These sounds scare humans: Did they come from aliens?

What’s that sound? The aliens are coming! No, wait – it’s only insect defence signals. These eerie sounds are the result of simulations created by entomologist Jean-Luc Boevé, of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, and informatics engineer Rudi Gio. They mapped the chemical defence signals produced by sawfly (Craesus septentrionalis) larvae to musical … Continue reading These sounds scare humans: Did they come from aliens?

Out of thin air: direct carbon capture is on the horizon

An Australian company could be selling modules that suck carbon dioxide directly from the air as early as next year, but it will be up to the highest bidder to decide what happens to that CO2 once it’s been captured. Melbourne-based Southern Green Gas (SGG) has just announced a partnership with Swiss Re, a multinational … Continue reading Out of thin air: direct carbon capture is on the horizon

Electrici-wee? Getting energy from wastewater

Could we ever use urine to power batteries? An international team of chemists have come a step closer with a new catalyst for urea reactions. “Urea is globally abundant in wastewater and can be used to power fuel cells as an alternative to conventional technology, which uses clean water in an electrolyser,” explains Yao Zheng, … Continue reading Electrici-wee? Getting energy from wastewater

Changing the shape of water molecules

Chemistry depends on catalysts to speed up reactions, make chemical processes more efficient, and control the products they’re making. But it’s not always clear why a catalyst works the way it does. A group of US researchers has uncovered part of the catalysis mystery by looking at nanometre-sized crystals called zeolites. They’ve shown that the … Continue reading Changing the shape of water molecules

Making hydrogen with mining waste

A group of Queensland researchers have used mining waste to make a catalyst that could render hydrogen fuel production cheaper and more efficient. Hydrogen gas, which can be made by electrolysing water, should be a critical clean fuel by mid-century. The electrolysis process needs metals to catalyse it – and generally, expensive precious metals do … Continue reading Making hydrogen with mining waste

What causes the oily film on black tea?

If you’re a black tea fan, you may have noticed the thin, oily film that sometimes forms on the top of the drink. Why does this happen? According to new research, the answer lies not only with the chemistry of the tea, but its physics: specifically, its fluid dynamics. The oily film on black tea … Continue reading What causes the oily film on black tea?

How close did the Nazis come to building an atomic bomb?

Nearly eight decades ago, when Allied forces and Nazi Germany were locked in mortal combat in World War II, American and German scientists were engaged in another desperate fight: a race to be the first to develop the atomic bomb. We know how it turned out. But just how close did the Nazis come to … Continue reading How close did the Nazis come to building an atomic bomb?

Simple chemistry could do away with chocolate’s temper trap

To make chocolate glossy, producers spend a lot of time and energy tempering it. But the addition of a couple of common chemicals found in our food could do away with the tempering process, according to new research in Nature Communications. Just like salt and ice, the cocoa butter in chocolate crystallises when it hardens: … Continue reading Simple chemistry could do away with chocolate’s temper trap

Can quantum tug-of-war explain water’s weirdness?

An international team of researchers has used a high-speed electron camera to observe the atomic motion of liquid water for the first time. These observations – which reveal the quantum nature of how hydrogen atoms interact – bring scientists one step closer to understanding the weird and wacky properties of water, like its unusually high … Continue reading Can quantum tug-of-war explain water’s weirdness?

How to determine if ‘Nazi uranium’ is real or fake

Scientists looking for ways to determine the sources of illicit nuclear materials have applied a method better known to geologists to try to prove that small blocks of uranium are relics of Nazi Germany’s nuclear weapons program. During World War II, Nazi scientists racing to beat the US to the development of the bomb refined … Continue reading How to determine if ‘Nazi uranium’ is real or fake