Thursday, December 2, 2010


Stereochemistry involves the study of the relative spatial arrangement of atoms within molecules. It is also known as 3D chemistry because the prefix "stereo-" means "three-dimensionality.

Some basic concepts are;

Isomers are molecules that have the same molecular formula but different arrangements of their constituent atoms.
Stereoisomers are molecules with identical connectivity but different spatial arrangements of their constituent atoms that cannot be interconverted by bond rotation. 

In order to categorise stereoisomers it is necessary to prioritise different atomic substituents using the Cahn–Ingold and Prelog sequence rules.

Chirality (cheir, Greek for "hand") refers to objects which are related as non–superimposable mirror images and the term derives from the fact that left and right hands are examples of chiral objects.

An enantiomer is one of a pair of stereoisomers that are related as non–superimposable mirror images.
A solution of a single enantiomer will rotate the plane of plane–polarised light and is referred to as optically active; although this physical property cannot be directly related to absolute configuration of the molecule. An enantiomer is given the prefix (+)– if the rotation is clockwise (dextrorotatory) and (–)– if the rotation is anticlockwise (levorotatory).

An equal mixture of opposite enantiomers is a racemate and solutions of racemic mixtures do not rotate the plane of plane–polarized light.

Enantiomeric Excess = (%Enantiomer A –% Enantiomer B)% 

A chiral molecule is a type of molecule that lacks an internal plane of symmetry and has a non-superimposable mirror image. The feature that is most often the cause of chirality in molecules is the presence of an asymmetric carbon atom.

Diastereoisomers are stereoisomers with a different relative configuration and are not related as mirror images. They have different chemical and physical properties.

Cis-trans isomerism or geometric isomerism or configuration isomerism or E-Z isomerism is a form of stereoisomerism describing the orientation of functional groups within a molecule. In general, such isomers contain double bonds, which cannot rotate, but they can also arise from ring structures, wherein the rotation of bonds is greatly restricted.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Importance of Carbon

Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. It is a member of group 14 on the periodic table. The name "carbon" comes from Latin language carbo, coal.
  • Carbon is Non-metallic
  • Tetravalent
  • Has three naturally occurring isotopes ( 12C and 13C is stable, 14C is radioactive)
  • Has many allotropes of which the best known are graphite, diamond, and amorphous carbon
Carbon is the 15th most abundant element in the Earth's crust, and the fourth most abundant element in the universe by mass after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen. It is present in all known lifeforms, and in the human body carbon is the second most abundant element by mass (about 18.5%) after oxygen. This abundance, along with the unique diversity of organic compounds and their unusual catenation ability at the temperatures commonly encountered on Earth, make this element the chemical basis of all known life.

Formation of the carbon atomic nucleus requires a nearly simultaneous triple collision of alpha particles (helium nuclei) within the core of a giant or supergiant star. This happens in conditions of > 100 megakelvin temperature and helium concentration that the rapid expansion and cooling of the early universe prohibited, and therefore no significant carbon was created during the Big Bang.

Carbon is essential to all known living systems, and without it life as we know it could not exist. The major economic use of carbon other than food and wood is in the form of hydrocarbons, most notably the fossil fuel methane gas and crude oil (petroleum). Crude oil is used by the petrochemical industry to produce, amongst others, gasoline and kerosene, through a distillation process, in refineries.

Cellulose is a natural, carbon-containing polymer produced by plants in the form of cotton, linen, and hemp. Cellulose is mainly used for maintaining structure in plants. Commercially valuable carbon polymers of animal origin include wool, cashmere and silk. Plastics are made from synthetic carbon polymers, often with oxygen and nitrogen atoms included at regular intervals in the main polymer chain. The raw materials for many of these synthetic substances come from crude oil.

Organometallic compounds by definition contain at least one carbon-metal bond. A wide range of such compounds exist; major classes include simple alkyl-metal compounds (e.g. tetraethyllead), η2-alkene compounds (e.g. Zeise's salt, and η3-allyl compounds (e.g. allylpalladium chloride dimer; metallocenes containing cyclopentadienyl ligands (e.g. ferrocene); and transition metal carbene complexes.

Carbon black is used as the black pigment in printing ink, artist's oil paint and water colours, carbon paper, automotive finishes, India ink and laser printer toner. Carbon black is also used as a filler in rubber products such as tyres and in plastic compounds. Activated charcoal is used as an adsorbent in filter material in applications as diverse as gas masks, water purification and kitchen extractor hoods and in medicine to absorb toxins, poisons, or gases from the digestive system. Carbon is used in chemical reduction at high temperatures.

Coke is used to reduce iron ore into iron. Case hardening of steel is achieved by heating finished steel components in carbon powder. Carbides of silicon, tungsten, boron and titanium, are among the hardest known materials, and are used as abrasives in cutting and grinding tools. Carbon compounds make up most of the materials used in clothing, such as natural and synthetic textiles and leather, and almost all of the interior surfaces in the built environment other than glass, stone and metal.
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High-performance liquid chromatography (or high-pressure liquid chromatography, HPLC) is a chromatographic technique that can separate a mixture of compounds, and is used in biochemistry and analytical chemistry to identify, quantify and purify the individual components of the mixture.
High performance liquid chromatography is basically a highly improved form of column chromatography. Instead of a solvent being allowed to drip through a column under gravity, it is forced through under high pressures of up to 400 atmospheres. That makes it much faster.
It also allows you to use a very much smaller particle size for the column packing material which gives a much greater surface area for interactions between the stationary phase and the molecules flowing past it. This allows a much better separation of the components of the mixture.
The other major improvement over column chromatography concerns the detection methods which can be used. These methods are highly automated and extremely sensitive.

HPLC utilizes different types of stationary phase (typically, hydrophobic saturated carbon chains), a pump that moves the mobile phase(s) and analyte through the column, and a detector that provides a characteristic retention time for the analyte. The detector may also provide other characteristic information (i.e. UV/Vis spectroscopic data for analyte if so equipped). Analyte retention time varies depending on the strength of its interactions with the stationary phase, the ratio/composition of solvent(s) used, and the flow rate of the mobile phase.
The output will be recorded as a series of peaks - each one representing a compound in the mixture passing through the detector and absorbing UV light.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Plasma was first identified in a Crookes tube, and so described by Sir William Crookes in 1879 (he called it "radiant matter").
 Plasma, in physics, fully ionized gas of low density, containing approximately equal numbers of positive and negative ions . It is electrically conductive and is affected by magnetic fields. The study of plasma, called plasma physics, is especially important in research efforts to produce a controlled thermonuclear reaction . Such a reaction requires extremely high temperatures; it has been computed that a temperature of about 10 million degrees Celsius would be needed to initiate the reaction between deuterium and tritium.

By passing a very high electric current through plasma great heat is produced and, simultaneously, an electromagnetic field is created, causing the plasma to withdraw from the walls of its container. The contraction of the plasma, called the pinch effect, prevents the container from being destroyed, but the effect may become unstable too quickly for the fusion reaction. The properties of plasma are distinct from those of the ordinary states of matter, and for this reason many scientists consider plasma a fourth state of matter. Interstellar gases, as well as the matter inside stars, are thought to be in the form of plasma, thus making plasma a common form of matter in the universe.

Like gas, plasma does not have a definite shape or a definite volume unless enclosed in a container; unlike gas, in the influence of a magnetic field, it may form structures such as filaments, beams and double layers. Some common plasmas are stars and neon signs.

Chemistry: Lab-on-a-chip

Chemistry: Lab-on-a-chip

Chemistry: Diffuse interstellar bands.

Chemistry: Diffuse interstellar bands.

Diffuse interstellar bands.

Diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs) are absorption features seen in the spectra of astronomical objects in our galaxy. They are caused by the absorption of light by the interstellar medium. More than 200 bands are seen, in ultraviolet, visible and infrared wavelengths.
The origin of DIBs was unknown and hotly disputed for many years, and the DIBs were long believed to be due to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other large carbon-bearing molecules. However, no agreement of the bands could be found with laboratory measurements or with theoretical calculations.
The great problem with DIBs, apparent from the earliest observations, was that their central wavelengths did not correspond with any known spectral lines of any ion or molecule, and so the material which was responsible for the absorption could not be identified. A large number of theories were advanced as the number of known DIBs grew, and determining the nature of the absorbing material (the 'carrier') became a crucial problem in astrophysics.
One important observational result is that the strengths of most DIBs are not correlated with each other. This means that there must be many carriers, rather than one carrier responsible for all DIBs. Also significant is that the strength of DIBs is broadly correlated with the extinction. Extinction is caused by dust in the interstellar medium, and so DIBs are likely to be also due to dust or something related to it.
The existence of sub-structure in DIBs supports the idea that they are caused by molecules. Substructure results from band heads in the rotational band contour and from isotope substitution. In a molecule containing, say, three carbon atoms, some of the carbon will be in the form of the carbon-13 isotope, so that while most molecules will contain three carbon-12 atoms, some will contain two C12 atoms and one C13 atom, much less will contain one C12 and two C13s, and a very small fraction will contain three C13 molecules. Each of these forms of the molecule will create an absorption line at a slightly different rest wavelength.
The most likely candidate molecules for producing DIBs are thought to be large carbon-bearing molecules, which are common in the interstellar medium. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, long carbon-chain molecules, and fullerenes are all potentially important.

In recent years, very high resolution spectrographs on the world's most powerful telescopes have been used to observe and analyse DIBs . Spectral resolutions of 0.005 nm are now routine using instruments at observatories such as the European Southern Observatory at Cerro Paranal, Chile, and the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Australia, and at these high resolutions, many DIBs are found to contain considerable sub-structure.

Friday, March 19, 2010


A lab-on-a-chip (LOC) is a device that integrates one or several laboratory functions on a single chip of only millimeters to a few square centimeters in size. LOCs deal with the handling of extremely small fluid volumes down to less than pico liters. Lab-on-a-chip devices are a subset of MEMS devices and often indicated by "Micro Total Analysis Systems" (µTAS) as well.

Microfluidics is a broader term that describes also mechanical flow control devices like pumps and valves or sensors like flowmeters and viscometers. However, strictly regarded "Lab-on-a-Chip" indicates generally the scaling of single or multiple lab processes down to chip-format, whereas "µTAS" is dedicated to the integration of the total sequence of lab processes to perform chemical analysis. The term "Lab-on-a-Chip" was introduced later on when it turned out that µTAS technologies were more widely applicable than only for analysis purposes.

Chip materials and fabrication technologies
The basis for most LOC fabrication processes is photolithography. Initially most processes were in silicon, as these well-developed technologies were directly derived from semiconductor fabrication. Because of demands for e.g. specific optical characteristics, bio- or chemical compatibility, lower production costs and faster prototyping, new processes have been developed such as glass, ceramics and metal etching, deposition and bonding, PDMS processing (e.g., soft lithography), thick-film- and stereolithography as well as fast replication methods via electroplating, injection molding and embossing. Furthermore the LOC field more and more exceeds the borders between lithography-based microsystem technology, nano technology and precision engineering.

Advantages of LOCs
LOCs may provide advantages, which are specific to their application. Typical advantages are:

  1. low fluid volumes consumption (less waste, lower reagents costs and less required sample volumes for diagnostics)
  2. faster analysis and response times due to short diffusion distances, fast heating, high surface to volume ratios, small heat capacities.
  3. better process control because of a faster response of the system (e.g. thermal control for exothermic chemical reactions)
  4. compactness of the systems due to integration of much functionality and small volumes
  5. massive parallelization due to compactness, which allows high-throughput analysis
  6. lower fabrication costs, allowing cost-effective disposable chips, fabricated in mass production
  7. safer platform for chemical, radioactive or biological studies because of integration of functionality, smaller fluid volumes and stored energies

For the chips to be used in areas with limited resources, many challenges must be overcome. In developed nations, the most highly valued traits for diagnostic tools include speed, sensitivity, and specificity; but in countries where the healthcare infrastructure is less well developed, attributes such ease of use and shelf life must also be considered. The reagents that come with the chip, for example, must be designed so that they remain effective for months even if the chip is not kept in a climate-controlled environment. Chip designers must also keep cost, scalability, and recyclability in mind as they choose what materials and fabrication techniques to use.

One active area of LOC research involves ways to diagnose and manage HIV infections. Around 40 million people are infected with HIV in the world today, yet only 1.3 million of these people receive anti-retroviral treatment. Around 90% of people with HIV have never been tested for the disease. Measuring the number of CD4+ T lymphocytes in a person’s blood is an accurate way to determine if a person has HIV and to track the progress of an HIV infection. At the moment, flow cytometry is the gold standard for obtaining CD4 counts, but flow cytometry is a complicated technique that is not available in most developing areas because it requires trained technicians and expensive equipment.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation (LASER or laser) is a mechanism for emitting electromagnetic radiation, typically light or visible light, via the process of stimulated emission. The emitted laser light is usually a spatially coherent, narrow low-divergence beam, that can be manipulated with lenses. In laser technology, "coherent light" denotes a light source that produces light of in-step waves of identical frequency, phase, and polarization.


A laser consists of a gain medium inside a highly reflective optical cavity, as well as a means to supply energy to the gain medium. The gain medium is a material with properties that allow it to amplify light by stimulated emission. In its simplest form, a cavity consists of two mirrors arranged such that light bounces back and forth, each time passing through the gain medium. Typically one of the two mirrors, the output coupler, is partially transparent. The output laser beam is emitted through this mirror.

Light of a specific wavelength that passes through the gain medium is amplified (increases in power); the surrounding mirrors ensure that most of the light makes many passes through the gain medium, being amplified repeatedly. Part of the light that is between the mirrors (that is, within the cavity) passes through the partially transparent mirror and escapes as a beam of light.

The process of supplying the energy required for the amplification is called pumping. The energy is typically supplied as an electrical current or as light at a different wavelength. Such light may be provided by a flash lamp or perhaps another laser. Most practical lasers contain additional elements that affect properties such as the wavelength of the emitted light and the shape of the beam.

Types and operating principles
Gas lasers

Gas lasers using many gases have been built and used for many purposes.

The helium-neon laser (HeNe) emits at a variety of wavelengths and units operating at 633 nm are very common in education because of its low cost.

Carbon dioxide lasers can emit hundreds of kilowatts[14] at 9.6 µm and 10.6 µm, and are often used in industry for cutting and welding. The efficiency of a CO2 laser is over 10%.

Argon-ion lasers emit light in the range 351-528.7 nm. Depending on the optics and the laser tube a different number of lines is usable but the most commonly used lines are 458 nm, 488 nm and 514.5 nm.

A nitrogen transverse electrical discharge in gas at atmospheric pressure (TEA) laser is an inexpensive gas laser producing UV light at 337.1 nm.

Metal ion lasers are gas lasers that generate deep ultraviolet wavelengths. Helium-silver (HeAg) 224 nm and neon-copper (NeCu) 248 nm are two examples. These lasers have particularly narrow oscillation linewidths of less than 3 GHz (0.5 picometers),[16] making them candidates for use in fluorescence suppressed Raman spectroscopy

Chemical lasers

Chemical lasers are powered by a chemical reaction, and can achieve high powers in continuous operation. For example, in the Hydrogen fluoride laser (2700-2900 nm) and the Deuterium fluoride laser (3800 nm) the reaction is the combination of hydrogen or deuterium gas with combustion products of ethylene in nitrogen trifluoride. They were invented by George C. Pimentel

Excimer lasers

Excimer lasers are powered by a chemical reaction involving an excited dimer, or excimer, which is a short-lived dimeric or heterodimeric molecule formed from two species (atoms), at least one of which is in an excited electronic state. They typically produce ultraviolet light, and are used in semiconductor photolithography and in LASIK eye surgery. Commonly used excimer molecules include F2 (fluorine, emitting at 157 nm), and noble gas compounds (ArF [193 nm], KrCl [222 nm], KrF [248 nm], XeCl [308 nm], and XeF [351 nm]).

Solid-state lasers

Solid-state laser materials are commonly made by "doping" a crystalline solid host with ions that provide the required energy states. For example, the first working laser was a ruby laser, made from ruby (chromium-doped corundum). The population inversion is actually maintained in the "dopant", such as chromium or neodymium. Formally, the class of solid-state lasers includes also fiber laser, as the active medium (fiber) is in the solid state. Practically, in the scientific literature, solid-state laser usually means a laser with bulk active medium, while wave-guide lasers are caller fiber lasers.

"Semiconductor lasers" are also solid-state lasers, but in the customary laser terminology, "solid-state laser" excludes semiconductor lasers, which have their own name.

Neodymium is a common "dopant" in various solid-state laser crystals, including yttrium orthovanadate (Nd:YVO4), yttrium lithium fluoride (Nd:YLF) and yttrium aluminium garnet (Nd:YAG). All these lasers can produce high powers in the infrared spectrum at 1064 nm. They are used for cutting, welding and marking of metals and other materials, and also in spectroscopy and for pumping dye lasers. These lasers are also commonly frequency doubled, tripled or quadrupled to produce 532 nm (green, visible), 355 nm (UV) and 266 nm (UV) light when those wavelengths are needed.

Ytterbium, holmium, thulium, and erbium are other common "dopants" in solid-state lasers. Ytterbium is used in crystals such as Yb:YAG, Yb:KGW, Yb:KYW, Yb:SYS, Yb:BOYS, Yb:CaF2, typically operating around 1020-1050 nm. They are potentially very efficient and high powered due to a small quantum defect. Extremely high powers in ultrashort pulses can be achieved with Yb:YAG. Holmium-doped YAG crystals emit at 2097 nm and form an efficient laser operating at infrared wavelengths strongly absorbed by water-bearing tissues. The Ho-YAG is usually operated in a pulsed mode, and passed through optical fiber surgical devices to resurface joints, remove rot from teeth, vaporize cancers, and pulverize kidney and gall stones.

Titanium-doped sapphire (Ti:sapphire) produces a highly tunable infrared laser, commonly used for spectroscopy as well as the most common ultrashort pulse laser.

Thermal limitations in solid-state lasers arise from unconverted pump power that manifests itself as heat and phonon energy. This heat, when coupled with a high thermo-optic coefficient (dn/dT) can give rise to thermal lensing as well as reduced quantum efficiency. These types of issues can be overcome by another novel diode-pumped solid-state laser, the diode-pumped thin disk laser. The thermal limitations in this laser type are mitigated by using a laser medium geometry in which the thickness is much smaller than the diameter of the pump beam. This allows for a more even thermal gradient in the material. Thin disk lasers have been shown to produce up to kilowatt levels of power

Dye lasers

Dye lasers use an organic dye as the gain medium. The wide gain spectrum of available dyes allows these lasers to be highly tunable, or to produce very short-duration pulses (on the order of a few femtoseconds)

Free electron lasers

Free electron lasers, or FELs, generate coherent, high power radiation, that is widely tunable, currently ranging in wavelength from microwaves, through terahertz radiation and infrared, to the visible spectrum, to soft X-rays. They have the widest frequency range of any laser type. While FEL beams share the same optical traits as other lasers, such as coherent radiation, FEL operation is quite different. Unlike gas, liquid, or solid-state lasers, which rely on bound atomic or molecular states, FELs use a relativistic electron beam as the lasing medium, hence the term free electron.

The first application of lasers visible in the daily lives of the general population was the supermarket barcode scanner, introduced in 1974. The laserdisc player, introduced in 1978, was the first successful consumer product to include a laser, but the compact disc player was the first laser-equipped device to become truly common in consumers' homes, beginning in 1982, followed shortly by laser printers.

Some of the other applications include:

Medicine: Bloodless surgery, laser healing, surgical treatment, kidney stone treatment, eye treatment, dentistry

Industry: Cutting, welding, material heat treatment, marking parts

Defense: Marking targets, guiding munitions, missile defence, electro-optical countermeasures (EOCM), alternative to radar, blinding enemy troops.

Research: Spectroscopy, laser ablation, laser annealing, laser scattering, laser interferometry, LIDAR, laser capture microdissection

Product development/commercial: laser printers, CDs, barcode scanners, thermometers, laser pointers, holograms, bubblegrams.

Laser lighting displays: Laser light shows

Cosmetic skin treatments: acne treatment, cellulite and striae reduction, and hair removal.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Bloom Energy Corporation, a Silicon Valley-based

company committed to changing the way people generate and consume energy, announced

today the availability of the Bloom Energy Server, a patented solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC)

technology that provides a cleaner, more reliable, and more affordable alternative to both today’s

electric grid as well as traditional renewable energy sources. The Bloom Energy Server provides

distributed power generation, allowing customers to efficiently create their own electricity onsite.

The company introduced its groundbreaking technology at an event hosted today at eBay Inc.

headquarters along with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, General Colin Powell, and

several of its early customers.

Built using abundant and affordable materials, Bloom’s fuel cell technology is fundamentally

different from the legacy “hydrogen” fuel cells most people are familiar with. The Bloom Energy

Server is distinct in four primary ways: it uses lower cost materials, provides unmatched efficiency

in converting fuel to electricity, has the ability to run on a wide range of renewable or traditional

fuels, and is more easily deployed and maintained.

Unlike traditional renewable energy technologies, like solar and wind, which are intermittent,

Bloom’s technology can provide renewable power 24/7.

Each Bloom Energy Server provides 100 kilowatts (kW) of power in roughly the footprint of a

parking space. Each system generates enough power to meet the needs of approximately 100

average U.S. homes or a small office building. For more power, customers simply deploy multiple

Energy Servers side by side. The modular architecture allows customers to start small and “pay

as they grow”.
Powder to Power – How It Works

Founded in 2001, Bloom Energy can trace its roots to the NASA Mars space program. For NASA,

Sridhar and his team were charged with building technology to help sustain life on Mars using

solar energy and water to produce air to breath and fuel for transportation. They soon realized

that their technology could have an even greater impact here on Earth and began work on what

would become the Bloom Energy Server.

The Bloom Energy Server converts air and nearly any fuel source – ranging from natural gas to a

wide range of biogases – into electricity via a clean electrochemical process, rather than dirty

combustion. Even running on a fossil fuel, the systems are approximately 67% cleaner than a

typical coal-fired power plant. When powered by a renewable fuel, they can be 100% cleaner.

Each Energy Server consists of thousands of Bloom's fuel cells – flat, solid ceramic squares

made from a common sand-like "powder."
About Bloom Energy

Bloom Energy is a provider of breakthrough solid oxide fuel cell technology that generates clean,

highly-efficient power onsite from virtually any fuel source. Bloom Energy’s mission is to make

clean, reliable energy affordable for everyone in the world. The Bloom Energy Server is currently

producing power for several Fortune 500 companies.