Sci/Tech briefs

Scientists create Rydberg molecule

A Rydberg molecule, named after Johannes Rydberg, is created by a bond between two atoms involving an electron that is a great distance from its nucleus. One of the two atoms in the Rydberg molecule is a Rydberg atom, which means it has one electron in its outermost shell, with which another, normal atom can interact.

This hypothetical molecule was created for the first time this year, using a super-cooled system to move rubidium atoms closer and closer together.
This was based on the Bose-Einstein condensate. A laser was used to excite the “Rydberg electron” in order to move it to its outermost shell; when a normal rubidium atom and a Rydberg atom moved to a distance of 100 nanometers, a Rydberg molecule was formed.
The molecule lasted for only 18 microseconds, but opened up a new world of possibilities for quantum physics and atomic theories.

Source: BBC

Pollution helps plants absorb CO2

Recent findings published in the journal Nature indicate that plants are able to absorb carbon dioxide more efficiently from polluted air than from cleaner air.
Clouds and atmospheric particles scatter the sunlight, enabling plants in the shade to also absorb sunlight and thus allowing photosynthesis to take place more efficiently.

In the study, scientists studied carbon storage by plants in the period from 1960 to 1999 and found that it increased by 10 percent due to the effects of atmospheric pollution.


Researchers create tough spider silk

Silk from spiders is stronger and lighter than ordinary silk, but scientists have now added small amounts of metal to the spider silk, making it three times as strong as what it was before. This new material could be used for making extremely strong textiles to produce such materials as artificial bones and tendons.
The silk was created by adding small amounts of zinc, titanium, or aluminum to the silk, making it more resistant to breakage and damage. The scientists added the metals using a technique called atomic layer deposition.

The research was carried out in Germany and was published in the journal Science.

Source: Reuters

Scientists convert CO2 to methanol

Researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore have come up with a novel method by which carbon dioxide can be converted to methanol under very mild conditions.

The reaction is catalyzed by an N-heterocyclic carbene catalyst and makes it possible to create methanol using carbon dioxide from air. Unlike previously used catalysts, the carbene catalyst is not sensitive to oxygen, allowing the reaction to proceed with carbon dioxide from the air.
Scientists hope that this new research will help find ways to create other carbon compounds from the carbon dioxide in air, thus establishing an environmentally friendly mechanism for the formation of carbon compounds.

Source: ScienceDaily