Battle of the nanotubes

MATERIALS

When one thinks of the word “nanotube,” the other word that’s likely to come to mind is “carbon.” Even a Google search reveals this bias. It’s easy to understand why. Since 1991, when carbon nanotubes emerged most prominently on the scientific scene, they have captured our collective imagination. These nano-sized cylinders of strictly organized carbon...

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Tracking the chemical fracking controversy

ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY

The line of wheat waving in a field in the Alberta countryside is broken abruptly by a dark earthen wall. Packed in behind this berm are more than a dozen tractor-trailer big rigs, including 10 powerful pumper trucks running full bore, generating more than 22,000 horsepower.  As we drive up to the worksite, located near...

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Something fishy with nanotechnology?

NANOTECHNOLOGY

Nanotech: Think big by thinking small. That could be nanotechnology’s tagline, if indeed this hot area of science needed a cool slogan — which it doesn’t. That’s because nanotech is already the wunderkind of science and the darling of the industrial world. Embraced by the public and researchers alike, nanotechnology is being touted as the...

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Waxing poetic about plastics

MATERIALS CHEMISTRY

It’s in your car tires and the roads you drive on. It bonds the wood particles in your desk. It coats the apples and fancy cheeses you eat for lunch. Wear lipstick? It’s in that, too. It’s also scribbled in the pages of your child’s colouring book and helps set a romantic tone for dinner...

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Running Interference

BIOCHEMISTRY

In Guinea, West Africa, February is the dry season; a dusty haze, stirred by the northeasterly harmattan winds, thickens the air. This year, the winds were harbingers of ill omen. That same month, Guineans began falling ill with symptoms ranging from fever, vomiting and diarrhea to muscle and joint pain and headaches. Some developed red...

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It’s a heat wave

ENERGY

It is a dream that fell short of its early optimism and hype: use abundant hydrogen to supply the planet’s energy needs to eliminate the global dependence on fossil fuels and reduce the greenhouse gases (GHG) implicated in climate change.   But the trajectory towards the widespread use of hydrogen stumbled due to numerous marketing...

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Glorious graphene

MATERIALS CHEMISTRY

The paradoxical observation “less is more” applies perfectly to carbon, for if you think coal and diamonds are valuable, just wait to get your hands on a little bit of graphene. Ideally, this material consists of a single atomic layer of carbon atoms arranged with symmetrical bonds to form sheets. In their purest form, such...

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Chemistry with a cherry on top

FOOD CHEMISTRY

A half-century ago, Doug Goff grew up in a home in Truro, NS where the freezer usually held seven or eight flavours of ice cream and a sleeve of cones was nearby. Today, Goff is known as Dr. Freeze around the world for his pioneering research into making consistently better ice cream.

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Microwaved Coal

ENERGY
BY:

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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