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Materials for future electronics

Research investigates the formation of distinct phases of bismuth-based molecule in topological insulators

The development of faster and more efficient electronic devices involves the understanding of exotic properties of matter at the nanoscale. One of the classes of materials that present characteristics of interest for the electronics industry are the so-called topological insulators.

Topological insulators are materials only a few atoms thick that behave as insulators in the inner atomic layers, but as conductors in the surface. The electrical conductivity of these superficial layers is remarkably resistant to the atomic disorder caused by the presence of impurities, which is not the case in other materials.

Nanotechnology for the Textile Industry

Research develops new method for dyeing with natural dyes

For thousands of years humanity has used substances extracted from plants, insects, soil and rocks to give color to fabrics, ceramics and other products. However, the use of these natural dyes declined with the invention of synthetic dyes in the mid-nineteenth century. Nowadays, synthetic dyes are used in a variety of industries, from textiles to cosmetics, and both production use of these substances can lead to environmental problems if they are not properly degraded or removed from industrial effluents.

On the other hand, natural dyes are themselves biodegradable, non-toxic and not harmful to the environment. However, since they are less stable than modern synthetic dyes, they may require the use of potentially toxic substances so that they can be properly fixed in the fibers of the textile materials.

Nanodrug against vitiligo

Successful in-vitro test shows potential for new treatment

Vitiligo is a disease characterized by loss of skin pigmentation due to the death of cells called melanocytes, responsible for melanin production. This disease afflicts up to 1% of the world population and current treatments are not effective and exhibit several side effects.

According to the most accepted theory, the disease results from an autoimmune reaction. It is known that one of the proteins involved in melanin synthesis, called TyRP-1, also functions as a melanocyte differentiation antigen, marking the melanocytes to be attacked by the immune system. Therefore, a possible strategy to thwart the progression of the disease is to prevent the production of TyRP-1.

The Amazonian biodiversity applied to the production of second generation bioethanol

Enzyme extracted from microorganisms from Amazonian lake shows potential for biofuel production

The growing understanding that the rise in average temperature of the planet is caused by human action has, in recent years, intensified the search for clean, renewable and cheap energy sources. One alternative source are the second generation biofuels produced from agricultural waste, such as sugar cane straw and bagasse, which are mainly composed of cellulose. The production of second generation ethanol, for example, breaks down this cellulose into simpler sugars with the use of several enzymes, followed by fermentation into ethanol.

Nanotechnology in plant fertilization

Research investigates mechanism of absorption and transport of zinc nanoparticles

In agriculture, several of the nutrients needed for the growth and development of plants are supplied or supplemented by fertilizers. Some nutrients, such as phosphorus ($\rm P$) and potassium ($\rm K$), are needed in large quantities, but obtained from limited mineral sources. Others - such as manganese ($\rm Mn$), copper ($\rm Cu$) or zinc ($\rm Zn$) - are only needed in small quantities and their excessive application can be toxic to plants or to important microorganisms present in the soil.

Recycling of pollutants for alternative fuel production

Research analyzes the deactivation of nickel catalysts in dry reforming of methane

Hydrogen gas ($\rm H_2$) is one of the alternatives to fossil fuels since its combustion has as final product only water vapor. A promising way to produce hydrogen is from the so-called biogas: methane ($\rm CH_4$) and carbon dioxide ($\rm CO_2$) originated from the fermentation of organic matter in anaerobic environments, such as landfills.

One possible process for this transformation is the dry reforming of methane (DRM), where $\rm CO_2$ and $\rm CH_4$ in the biogas react (in the presence of a catalyst) yielding a mixture of $\rm H_2$ and carbon monoxide ($\rm CO$) known as the synthesis gas.

Structure and Catalytic Activity of Copper Nanoparticles

Research investigates the addition of ceria on the activity of catalysts for the water-gas shift reaction

Catalysts are substances that promote and accelerate chemical reactions without being consumed during the process and are widely used in industrial processes to produce various chemicals.

Catalysts based on copper nanoparticles dispersed in an oxide support benefit various reactions, such as the synthesis of methanol, the alcohol dehydrogenation, or the water gas shift (WGS) reaction which is one of the main processes for hydrogen production on an industrial scale. In this reaction, carbon monoxide reacts with water to produce carbon dioxide $\rm CO_2$ and hydrogen gas $\rm H_2$.

A new x-ray technique to unravel electronic properties of actinide compounds

A new research demonstrates a direct and selective way to investigate 5f electrons in actinide compounds as well as their interaction with other valence electrons

Actinides are a series of chemical elements that form the basis of nuclear fission technology, finding applications in strategic areas such as power generation, space exploration, diagnostics and medical treatments, and also in some special glass. Thorium (Th) and Uranium (U) are the most abundant actinides in the Earth's crust.

A deeper understanding of the properties of uranium and other actinides is necessary not only for their more efficient use in existing applications but also for proposing new applications. Several open questions remain, progress in this area usually limited in part by the difficulty in handling these materials safely.

NEW CATALYSTS FOR THE SYNTHESIS OF ORGANIC COMPOUNDS

Research proposes new mechanism for Suzuki-type C-C homocoupling reaction catalyzed by palladium nanocubes

The production of chemical compounds from simpler organic molecules is of great importance for various industrial processes. It is based on the bonding between carbons of the precursor organic compounds, aided by catalysts (typically transition metals). These reactions make it possible to obtain natural and synthetic substances for the development of new materials, such as polymers and pharmaceuticals.

In particular, the so-called carbon-carbon (CC) cross-coupling reactions, in which two different precursor molecules are bound to form the final chemical compound, are of such importance that their development granted the 2010 Nobel Prize in chemistry to researchers Richard F. Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki.