We report the template-free, low-temperature synthesis of a stable, amorphous, and anhydrous magnesium carbonate nanostructure with pore sizes below 6 nm and a specific surface area of ∼ 800 m(2) g(-1), substantially surpassing the surface area of all previously described alkali earth metal carbonates. The moisture sorption of the novel nanostructure is featured by a unique set of properties including an adsorption capacity ∼50% larger than that of the hygroscopic zeolite-Y at low relative humidities and with the ability to retain more than 75% of the adsorbed water when the humidity is decreased from 95% to 5% at room temperature. These properties can be regenerated by heat treatment at temperatures below 100°C.The structure is foreseen to become useful in applications such as humidity control, as industrial adsorbents and filters, in drug delivery and catalysis.
It is widely considered that most organisms cannot survive prolonged exposure to temperatures below 0°C, primarily because of the damage caused by the water in cells as it freezes. However, some organisms are capable of surviving extreme variations in environmental conditions. In the case of temperature, the ability to survive subzero temperatures is referred to as cryobiosis. We show that the ozobranchid leech, Ozobranchus jantseanus, a parasite of freshwater turtles, has a surprisingly high tolerance to freezing and thawing. This finding is particularly interesting because the leach can survive these temperatures without any acclimation period or pretreatment. Specifically, the leech survived exposure to super-low temperatures by storage in liquid nitrogen (-196°C) for 24 hours, as well as long-term storage at temperatures as low as -90°C for up to 32 months. The leech was also capable of enduring repeated freeze-thaw cycles in the temperature range 20°C to -100°C and then back to 20°C. The results demonstrated that the novel cryotolerance mechanisms employed by O. jantseanus enable the leech to withstand a wider range of temperatures than those reported previously for cryobiotic organisms. We anticipate that the mechanism for the observed tolerance to freezing and thawing in O. jantseanus will prove useful for future studies of cryopreservation.
Biological materials are often based on simple constituents and grown by the principle of self-assembly under ambient conditions. In particular, biomineralization approaches exploit efficient pathways of inorganic material synthesis. There is still a large gap between the complexity of natural systems and the practical utilization of bioinspired formation mechanisms. Here we describe a simple self-assembly route leading to a CaCO(3) microlens array, somewhat reminiscent of the brittlestars' microlenses, with uniform size and focal length, by using a minimum number of components and equipment at ambient conditions. The formation mechanism of the amorphous CaCO(3) microlens arrays was elucidated by confocal Raman spectroscopic imaging to be a two-step growth process mediated by the organic surfactant. CaCO(3) microlens arrays are easy to fabricate, biocompatible and functional in amorphous or more stable crystalline forms. This shows that advanced optical materials can be generated by a simple mineral precipitation.
The structural description of disordered systems has been a longstanding challenge in physical science. We propose an atomic cluster alignment method to reveal the development of three-dimensional topological ordering in a metallic liquid as it undercools to form a glass. By analyzing molecular dynamic (MD) simulation trajectories of a Cu(64.5)Zr(35.5) alloy, we show that medium-range order (MRO) develops in the liquid as it approaches the glass transition. Specifically, around Cu sites, we observe “Bergman triacontahedron” packing (icosahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron) that extends out to the fourth shell, forming an interpenetrating backbone network in the glass. The discovery of Bergman-type MRO from our order-mining technique provides unique insights into the topological ordering near the glass transition and the relationship between metallic glasses and quasicrystals.
The potential of thermoelectric materials to generate electricity from the waste heat can play a key role in achieving a global sustainable energy future. In order to proceed in this direction, it is essential to have thermoelectric materials that are environmentally friendly and exhibit high figure of merit, ZT. Oxide thermoelectric materials are considered ideal for such applications. High thermoelectric performance has been reported in single crystals of Ca3Co4O9. However, for large scale applications single crystals are not suitable and it is essential to develop high-performance polycrystalline thermoelectric materials. In polycrystalline form, Ca3Co4O9 is known to exhibit much weaker thermoelectric response than in single crystal form. Here, we report the observation of enhanced thermoelectric response in polycrystalline Ca3Co4O9 on doping Tb ions in the material. Polycrystalline Ca3-xTbxCo4O9 (x = 0.0-0.7) samples were prepared by a solid-state reaction technique. Samples were thoroughly characterized using several state of the art techniques including XRD, TEM, SEM and XPS. Temperature dependent Seebeck coefficient, electrical resistivity and thermal conductivity measurements were performed. A record ZT of 0.74 at 800 K was observed for Tb doped Ca3Co4O9 which is the highest value observed till date in any polycrystalline sample of this system.
Destructive gas generation with associated swelling has been a major challenge to the large-scale application of lithium ion batteries (LIBs) made from Li(4)Ti(5)O(12) (LTO) anodes. Here we report root causes of the gassing behavior, and suggest remedy to suppress it. The generated gases mainly contain H(2), CO(2) and CO, which originate from interfacial reactions between LTO and surrounding alkyl carbonate solvents. The reactions occur at the very thin outermost surface of LTO (111) plane, which result in transformation from (111) to (222) plane and formation of (101) plane of anatase TiO(2). A nanoscale carbon coating along with a stable solid electrolyte interface (SEI) film around LTO is seen most effective as a barrier layer in suppressing the interfacial reaction and resulting gassing from the LTO surface. Such an ability to tune the interface nanostructure of electrodes has practical implications in the design of next-generation high power LIBs.
Platinum-nanoparticle-based catalysts are widely used in many important chemical processes and automobile industries. Downsizing catalyst nanoparticles to single atoms is highly desirable to maximize their use efficiency, however, very challenging. Here we report a practical synthesis for isolated single Pt atoms anchored to graphene nanosheet using the atomic layer deposition (ALD) technique. ALD offers the capability of precise control of catalyst size span from single atom, subnanometer cluster to nanoparticle. The single-atom catalysts exhibit significantly improved catalytic activity (up to 10 times) over that of the state-of-the-art commercial Pt/C catalyst. X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) analyses reveal that the low-coordination and partially unoccupied densities of states of 5d orbital of Pt atoms are responsible for the excellent performance. This work is anticipated to form the basis for the exploration of a next generation of highly efficient single-atom catalysts for various applications.
A new antibacterial chlorinated benzophenone derivative, (±)-pestalachloride D (1), along with a related analog, (±)-pestalachloride C (2), was recently isolated from the marine-derived fungus Pestalotiopsis sp. isolated from a soft coral Sarcophyton sp. collected from Yongxing Island in the South China Sea. Both chiral HPLC analysis and single-crystal X-ray data indicated that 1 is a racemic mixture. Interestingly, 1 did not exhibit any effect in the zebrafish embryo teratogenicity assay, while 2 led to abnormal growth. The potential impact on zebrafish embryo growth is discussed based on their crystal structures. The main difference of crystal structures between 1 and 2 is that the six-member non-aromatic ring (O4, C10, C9, C8, C2', and C3') in 1 exhibits a distorted chair conformation, while 2 shows a distorted boat conformation. Moreover, compounds 1 and 2 both exhibited moderate antibacterial activity.
Phononic and magnonic dispersions of a linear array of periodic alternating Ni80Fe20 and bottom anti-reflective coating nanostripes on a Si substrate have been measured using Brillouin light scattering. The observed phononic gaps are considerably larger than those of laterally patterned multi-component crystals previously reported, mainly a consequence of the high elastic and density contrasts between the stripe materials. Additionally, the phonon hybridization bandgap has an unusual origin in the hybridization and avoided crossing of the zone-folded Rayleigh and pseudo-Sezawa waves. The magnonic band structure features near-dispersionless branches, with unusual vortex-like dynamic magnetization profiles, some of which lie below the highly-dispersive fundamental mode branch. Finite element calculations of the phononic and magnonic dispersions of the magphonic crystal accord well with experimental data.
Sucrose isomerase NX-5 from Erwiniarhapontici efficiently catalyzes the isomerization of sucrose to isomaltulose (main product) and trehalulose (by-product). To investigate the molecular mechanism controlling sucrose isomer formation, we determined the crystal structures of native NX-5 and its mutant complexes E295Q/sucrose and D241A/glucose at 1.70 Å, 1.70 Å and 2.00 Å, respectively. The overall structure and active site architecture of NX-5 resemble those of other reported sucrose isomerases. Strikingly, the substrate binding mode of NX-5 is also similar to that of trehalulose synthase from Pseudomonasmesoacidophila MX-45 (MutB). Detailed structural analysis revealed the catalytic RXDRX motif and the adjacent 10-residue loop of NX-5 and isomaltulose synthase PalI from Klebsiella sp. LX3 adopt a distinct orientation from those of trehalulose synthases. Mutations of the loop region of NX-5 resulted in significant changes of the product ratio between isomaltulose and trehalulose. The molecular dynamics simulation data supported the product specificity of NX-5 towards isomaltulose and the role of the loop(330-339) in NX-5 catalysis. This work should prove useful for the engineering of sucrose isomerase for industrial carbohydrate biotransformations.