Understanding NSF Research: Chemistry
Image Captions and Credits
What do you get when you drop a piece of metal salt into a glass of water? Crystal whimsy. The salt begins to generate multiple forms as water-permeable metal silicate membranes grow and osmotic effects take hold.
Credit: Yan Liang, Xiangang Tao and Wei Huang
Science of Smell
Worker honeybees use many cues, including odors, to locate and identify flowers that have nectar and pollen, resources needed for bee colony survival. Because of their keen sense of smell, honeybees are one of the model organisms used to study the olfactory or smell circuit.
Credit: Arizona State University
The drug industry uses hamster cells to produce biopharmaceuticals. Over time, the cell lines may change due to a steady series of mutations. Researchers are working to discover the cause of the genetic drift and turn it off.
Credit: Clemson University
Polymer-metal Robotic Hand
Researchers are working to transform ionic polymer-metal composites into artificial muscles as shown in this soft robotic hand.
Credit: Kam K. Leang. University of Utah
Gecko feet come in many forms, but they all share a common trait: ultra-stickiness. A gecko's ability to cling has inspired the design and fabrication of synthetic dry adhesives.
Credit: Image courtesy professor Kellar Autumn, from Autumn, K., et al. 2002. Evidence for van der Waals adhesion in gecko setae. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99, 12252-12256.
Physical chemistry is vital to industries that produce materials, pharmaceuticals and consumer products.
Credit: Ultrafast Laser Spectroscopy Lab, Oregon State University
The blue, green and violet proteins of the enzyme Frh and their yellow reactive metal centers provide insights into microbiological methane production.
Credit: Janet Vonck, Max Planck Institute of Biophysics
Manufacturing carbon nanofibers in ambient air rather than ammonia gas makes the fabrication process safer and less expensive. Carbon nanofibers are promising as gene-delivery tools, sensors, batteries and other technologies.
Credit: Anatoli Melechko/North Carolina State University
Removing radioactive waste from water: 5 not-so-easy steps
Chemists at the University of Iowa, led by associate professor Tori Forbes, are using National Science Foundation funding to investigate how to remove radioactive substances from water. Forbes' team creates and tests various chemical compounds to find candidates that can isolate and capture radioactive elements, such as uranium, in nanotubes. A major goal of the research is to solve an enduring problem in the United States: how to safely use and dispose of nuclear waste.