View the May/June 2014 Canadian Chemical News (ACCN) print issue as a PDF.

Vaccine Machine

HEALTH

Last year, following the publication of his latest research in the journal Vaccine, dozens of emails flooded polysaccharide chemist Mario Monteiro’s inbox. Monteiro’s paper, about a potential...

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The chemical mysteries of wine revealed

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
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Athabasca University professor Dietmar Kennepohl explains some of the surprising chemistry behind the pairing of wine and cheese. Photo credit: Lucio Gelmini About 100 people attended the annual Café CIC public lecture held at Concordia University College of Alberta in Edmonton this past March. This year’s topic was the Art, History and Chemistry of Wine, presented by...

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David Fung – man on a mission

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
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This year, Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) Chair David Fung has made it his mission to visit as many of the local sections as possible during his term. To date, Fung has visited the Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Manitoba, Hawkesbury and Hamilton CIC Local Sections as well as participating in special events. These included talks like...

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A bitter lesson about beer brewing

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
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The Chemical Institute of Canada Toronto Local Section hosted a Brewery Tour and Sponsor Appreciation Night last December at the Mill Street Brew Hall in the city’s historic Distillery District. It was a great opportunity for local section members to meet sponsors while learning about the art and science of brewing from head distiller, Kaitlin...

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CIC and CSC 2014 winners announced

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
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The Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) and Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) have announced the award winners for 2014. Official presentations take place at the 97th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition in Vancouver, June 1-5 and the 64th­ Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference in Niagara Falls, Ont., Oct. 19–22. Details about the winners’ research are available at www.cheminst.ca/awards.

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Grapevine

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
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This year’s winner of the 2014 Chemical Institute of Canada medal is Douglas W. Stephan, FCIC, of the University of Toronto. Stephan’s research targets innovative new technologies for the efficient production of desirable chemical products. His group develops new transition metal-based catalysts for hydrogenation, polymerization

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Lead isotope ratios confirm Earth’s oldest mineral

GEOCHEMISTRY

The cracks in zircon crystals can record seismic events and meteorite­ strikes from our planet’s ancient past. Photo credit: Carles Millan The oldest confirmed piece of our planet turns out to be a chunk of lovely pink crystal of the mineral zircon, which was found at a sheep station in Western Australia more than a decade...

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Ancient bat guano provides­ historic record of changes to chemical composition of air

ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY

At first glance, you might regard a Jamaican cave that has been continuously inhabited by bats for thousands of years as one of the last places to learn how the chemical content of regional air and water have been changing. But for Jules Blais, a biologist with the University of Ottawa, the countless strata of guano deposited there by these animals provide an ideal record of this information. Blais specializes in gauging the influence of environmental contaminants on the metabolism...

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The curiously fluid nature of solids at cold temperatures

MATERIALS SCIENCE

Run your fingers over a smooth polystyrene surface and you would be convinced that it is hard and solid. James Forrest has news for you — that surface is still liquid and continues to flow even at the freezing point of the material. The University of Waterloo physicist recently co-authored a paper in Science that...

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Analyzing quinoa DNA for growing on Canadian farms

TECHNIQUES

Although quinoa is widely regarded by foodies as an up-and-coming superfood, this nutrition-packed grain is currently grown only in South America’s Andes Mountains. As Canadian tastes and markets for this mild-flavoured product expand, agricultural researchers are considering whether the plant can be adapted for cultivation here. A traditional approach might have included studying generations of...

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A new gold standard of healing with crystalline polymers

NANOTECHNOLOGY

How convenient it would be if we could convince a torn piece of material to return to its undamaged state. Université de Sherbrooke chemist Yue Zhao has been able to purchase just such convenience with some vanishingly small amounts of gold. The substance in question is gold nanoparticles or nanorods, which are inserted into a thin...

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Testing for banned substances in athletes ups its game

ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY

Just as athletes commit to becoming faster and stronger than ever, so too do the authorities testing these competitors for banned substances. For just that reason, the World Anti-Doping Agency has supported the work of chemist Janusz Pawliszyn of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, who has shown how to make the organization’s testing regime more efficient than ever before.

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Creating the ideal 3D environment for cellular research

ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY

Scientists around the world study cell cultures laid out in flat, two-dimensional (2D) arrays — a highly practical but ultimately limited way of understanding how those cells behave. “Everyone — and I mean everyone — can agree that three-dimensional (3D) tissue models are far superior...

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Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery with patents

INTELLECTUAL MATTERS

In a previous column, I discussed how patents can be monetized either by wholly assigning the rights in the patent or, alternatively, by licensing a portion of the rights. There is, of course, a more obvious way of monetizing intellectual property and that is by using an invention. As I have written before, a patent...

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Future opportunities abound for creative­ and innovative chemists

CAREERS

The great Renaissance painter, Sandro Botticelli, painted his masterpiece the Allegory of Spring amidst the backdrop of an era of profound change. He challenged conventional thought and was one of the most daring painters of his time. He explored both spiritual and non-traditional classical themes with extraordinary results. Today the field of chemistry is experiencing...

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Then and Now

HISTORY
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Canadian Titanium Pigments Ltd. was founded in 1936 by parent company NL Industries, one of America’s most venerable businesses. The National Lead Company, as it was first known, was established in 1772 in Philadelphia,  Pa. — four years before the United States became a nation. One of NL Industries leading products was titanium dioxide (TiO2)...

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Microwaved Coal

ENERGY
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Stick a chunk of lignite in your home microwave and you’ll find that it doesn’t even warm up: coal is transparent to microwave radiation. But you might also notice that when you’re done, your lump of “brown coal” is sitting in a little puddle of water. Electromagnetic radiation in the microwave spectrum causes polarized molecules...

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Concrete Solutions

MATERIALS

Our modern world continues to be built on physical foundations that would have been all too familiar to the ancient Romans: cement and concrete. These products loom large across the entire spectrum of civil engineering, which annually consumes twice as much concrete and cement as all other building materials combined. Their production has consequently assumed...

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Networking opens the door to new career opportunities

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS

Just before turning 30, after working for two chemical manufacturing companies, I was headhunted and offered a tremendous job opportunity with a large salary increase and company car. I did not accept the position, as it would have meant leaving the chemical sector. The rest of my career, I decided, would be built around the...

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