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Concept: Chemical element


The Fukushima nuclear accident released radioactive materials into the environment over the entire Northern Hemisphere in March 2011, and the Japanese government is spending large amounts of money to clean up the contaminated residential areas and agricultural fields. However, we still do not know the exact physical and chemical properties of the radioactive materials. This study directly observed spherical Cs-bearing particles emitted during a relatively early stage (March 14-15) of the accident. In contrast to the Cs-bearing radioactive materials that are currently assumed, these particles are larger, contain Fe, Zn, and Cs, and are water insoluble. Our simulation indicates that the spherical Cs-bearing particles mainly fell onto the ground by dry deposition. The finding of the spherical Cs particles will be a key to understand the processes of the accident and to accurately evaluate the health impacts and the residence time in the environment.

Concepts: Solubility, Chemical substance, Chemical element, Uranium, Radioactive contamination, Lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents, Government of Japan, Cabinet of Japan


Here we explore the electrochemical performance of pyrolyzed skins from the species A. bisporus, also known as the Portobello mushroom, as free-standing, binder-free, and current collector-free Li-ion battery anodes. At temperatures above 900 °C, the biomass-derived carbon nanoribbon-like architectures undergo unique processes to become hierarchically porous. During heat-treatment, the oxygen and heteroatom-rich organics and potassium compounds naturally present in the mushroom skins play a mutual role in creating inner void spaces throughout the resulting carbon nanoribbons, which is a process analogous to KOH-activation of carbon materials seen in literature. The pores formed in the pyrolytic carbon nanoribbons range in size from sub-nanometer to tens of nanometers, making the nanoribbons micro, meso, and macroporous. Detailed studies were conducted on the carbon nanoribbons using SEM and TEM to study morphology, as well as XRD and EDS to study composition. The self-supporting nanoribbon anodes demonstrate significant capacity increase as they undergo additional charge/discharge cycles. After a pyrolysis temperature of 1100 °C, the pristine anodes achieve over 260 mAh/g after 700 cycles and a Coulombic efficiency of 101.1%, without the use of harmful solvents or chemical activation agents.

Concepts: Electrochemistry, Chemical element, Battery, Electrolyte, Electrolysis, Lithium-ion battery, Lithium, Agaricus bisporus


In recent years there has been an exponential increase in tungsten demand, potentially increasing human exposure to the metal. Currently, the toxicology of tungsten is poorly understood, but mounting evidence suggests that both the elemental metal and its alloys have cytotoxic effects. Here, we investigate the association between tungsten and cardiovascular disease (CVD) or stroke using six waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Concepts: Medicine, Health, Disease, Iron, Chemical element, Carbon, The Association, Exponential growth


Mercury is a toxic and non-essential metal in the human body. Mercury is ubiquitously distributed in the environment, present in natural products, and exists extensively in items encountered in daily life. There are three forms of mercury, i.e., elemental (or metallic) mercury, inorganic mercury compounds, and organic mercury compounds. This review examines the toxicity of elemental mercury and inorganic mercury compounds. Inorganic mercury compounds are water soluble with a bioavailability of 7% to 15% after ingestion; they are also irritants and cause gastrointestinal symptoms. Upon entering the body, inorganic mercury compounds are accumulated mainly in the kidneys and produce kidney damage. In contrast, human exposure to elemental mercury is mainly by inhalation, followed by rapid absorption and distribution in all major organs. Elemental mercury from ingestion is poorly absorbed with a bioavailability of less than 0.01%. The primary target organs of elemental mercury are the brain and kidney. Elemental mercury is lipid soluble and can cross the blood-brain barrier, while inorganic mercury compounds are not lipid soluble, rendering them unable to cross the blood-brain barrier. Elemental mercury may also enter the brain from the nasal cavity through the olfactory pathway. The blood mercury is a useful biomarker after short-term and high-level exposure, whereas the urine mercury is the ideal biomarker for long-term exposure to both elemental and inorganic mercury, and also as a good indicator of body burden. This review discusses the common sources of mercury exposure, skin lightening products containing mercury and mercury release from dental amalgam filling, two issues that happen in daily life, bear significant public health importance, and yet undergo extensive debate on their safety.

Concepts: Brain, Chemical element, Metal, Mercury, Human anatomy, Mercury poisoning, Amalgam


Copper is an essential element in various metabolisms. The investigation was carried out to evaluate acute gastroprotective effects of the Copper (II) complex against ethanol-induced superficial hemorrhagic mucosal lesions in rats.

Concepts: Chemical element, Toxicology, Acute toxicity, Alchemy, Schiff base, Peter Slabakov, Hugo Schiff


Materials based on metallic elements that have d orbitals and exhibit room temperature magnetism have been known for centuries and applied in a huge range of technologies. Development of room temperature carbon magnets containing exclusively sp orbitals is viewed as great challenge in chemistry, physics, spintronics and materials science. Here we describe a series of room temperature organic magnets prepared by a simple and controllable route based on the substitution of fluorine atoms in fluorographene with hydroxyl groups. Depending on the chemical composition (an F/OH ratio) and sp(3) coverage, these new graphene derivatives show room temperature antiferromagnetic ordering, which has never been observed for any sp-based materials. Such 2D magnets undergo a transition to a ferromagnetic state at low temperatures, showing an extraordinarily high magnetic moment. The developed theoretical model addresses the origin of the room temperature magnetism in terms of sp(2)-conjugated diradical motifs embedded in an sp(3) matrix and superexchange interactions via -OH functionalization.

Concepts: Oxygen, Magnetic field, Magnet, Chemistry, Magnetism, Ferromagnetism, Chemical element, Carbon


Increased concern for potential health and environmental impacts of chemicals, including nanomaterials, in consumer products is driving demand for greater transparency regarding potential risks. Chemical hazard assessment is a powerful tool to inform product design, development and procurement and has been integrated into alternative assessment frameworks. The extent to which assessment methods originally designed for conventionally-sized materials can be used for nanomaterials, which have size-dependent physical and chemical properties, have not been well established. We contracted with a certified GreenScreen profiler to conduct three GreenScreen hazard assessments, for conventional silver and two forms of nanosilver. The contractor summarized publicly available literature, and used defined GreenScreen hazard criteria and expert judgment to assign and report hazard classification levels, along with indications of confidence in those assignments. Where data were not available, a data gap (DG) was assigned. Using the individual endpoint scores, an aggregated benchmark score (BM) was applied.

Concepts: Risk, Chemistry, Chemical substance, Chemical element, Assessment, Scores, Physical property, The Contractor


Silver (Ag) is one of the seven metals of antiquity and an important engineering material in the electronic, medical, and chemical industries because of its unique noble and catalytic properties. Ag thin films are extensively used in modern electronics primarily because of their oxidation-resistance. Here we report a novel phenomenon of Ag nano-volcanic eruption that is caused by interactions between Ag and oxygen (O). It involves grain boundary liquation, the ejection of transient Ag-O fluids through grain boundaries, and the decomposition of Ag-O fluids into O2 gas and suspended Ag and Ag2O clusters. Subsequent coating with re-deposited Ag-O and the de-alloying of O yield a conformal amorphous Ag coating. Patterned Ag hillock arrays and direct Ag-to-Ag bonding can be formed by the homogenous crystallization of amorphous coatings. The Ag “nano-volcanic eruption” mechanism is elaborated, shedding light on a new mechanism of hillock formation and new applications of amorphous Ag coatings.

Concepts: Oxygen, Crystallography, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Chemical element, Materials science, Silver, Chemical industry


It is indisputable that modern life is enabled by the use of materials in its technologies. Those technologies do many things very well, largely because each material is used for purposes to which it is exquisitely fitted. The result over time has been a steady increase in product performance. We show that this materials complexity has markedly increased in the past half-century and that elemental life cycle analyses characterize rates of recycling and loss. A further concern is that of possible scarcity of some of the elements as their use increases. Should materials availability constraints occur, the use of substitute materials comes to mind. We studied substitution potential by generating a comprehensive summary of potential substitutes for 62 different metals in all their major uses and of the performance of the substitutes in those applications. As we show herein, for a dozen different metals, the potential substitutes for their major uses are either inadequate or appear not to exist at all. Further, for not 1 of the 62 metals are exemplary substitutes available for all major uses. This situation largely decouples materials substitution from price, thereby forcing material design changes to be primarily transformative rather than incremental. As wealth and population increase worldwide in the next few decades, scientists will be increasingly challenged to maintain and improve product utility by designing new and better materials, but doing so under potential constraints in resource availability.

Concepts: Sociology, Chemical element, Materials science, Substitute good, Liberalism, Late modernity, Postmodernity, Rationalization


The roots of the “shy plant” Mimosa pudica L. emit a cocktail of small organic and inorganic sulfur compounds into the environment, including SO2, methylsulfinic acid, pyruvic acid, lactic acid, ethanesulfinic acid, propane sulfinic acid, 2-mercaptoaniline, S-propyl propane 1-thiosulfinate, and thioformaldehyde, an elusive and highly unstable compound never before reported to be emitted by a plant. When soil around the roots is dislodged or when seedling roots are touched, an odor is detected. The perceived odor corresponds to emission of higher amounts of propanesulfenic acid, 2-mercaptoaniline, S-propyl propane 1-thiosulfinate, and phenothiazine. The mechanosensitivity response is selective. Whereas touching the roots with soil or human skin resulted in odor detection, agitating the roots with other materials such as glass did not induce a similar response. Light and electron microscopy studies revealed the presence of microscopic sac-like root protuberances. Elemental analysis of these hairs by energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy revealed them to contain higher levels of K+ and Cl- compared to the surrounding tissue. Exposing the hairs to stimuli that caused in odor emission resulted in a reduction in the levels of K+ and Cl- in the touched area. The mechanistic implications of the variety of sulfur compounds observed vis-à-vis the pathways for their formation are discussed.

Concepts: Oxygen, Bacteria, Chemical element, Skin, Sulfur, Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, Sulfur dioxide, Mimosa pudica