The Discovry Of Sunscreens

Almost every television channel and skin care product company is trying to promote their sunscreen. Sunscreen has become very important over the last few years. Sunscreen is important if you want your skin to stay healthy, glowing and guarded.

In fact many skin experts in addition to doctors recommend applying sunscreen to avoid the sun’s damaging effects, especially after the recent increase of skin cancer. But have you ever wondered how these so-called important sunscreens ever come into existence. Who invented this indispensable thing? Let us find out.

Humans always wanted to look attractive. Even in ancient times, people desired to avoid sunburn. This takes us back to the Egyptian days. Egyptians always considered light skin more beautiful than dark skin. However, Egypt’s sun-drenched environment made it difficult to maintain light and radiant skin. Recently, the papyri and tomb walls were translated and this revealed that the Egyptians used the ingredients of potions to ward off tan and also heal damaged skin.

The Egyptians also used jasmine in their version of sunscreens. Recently a study revealed that jasmine helps to heal DNA at the cellular level in the skin and also mends skin damage. Lupine extract was also used by the Egyptians to lighten the skin and all these ingredients are still used in our sunscreens. Today, gamma oryzanol is extracted from rice bran as it has UV-absorbing properties.

Later in 1938, a famous chemist called as Franz Greiter developed a cream which he named as Gletscher Crème or Glacier Cream. He also came up with something called as the sun protection factor which is now known as SPF factor in a sunscreen. Franz invented the SPF factor which then became a standard for measuring the effectiveness of sunscreen when applied at an even rate of 2 milligrams per square centimetre.

In 1944, Florida based pharmacist, Benjamin Green patented another version of sunscreen. He called it as Red Vet Pet, and his patent was bought by a company called as Coppertone who sold it as “Coppertone Girl” and “Bain de Soleil” in the early 1950s. Finally in 1980, Coppertone developed the first UVA/UVB sunscreen which has been in the markets with different names.

Scientists are still searching for more effective ways to protect the human body against the sun. One goal of these scientists is to develop a sunscreen pill. Also, significant attention is been given to a substance called astaxanthin (the CAS number is 472-61-7) that is found in red ocean plants and animals, such as salmon. Astaxanthin is considered as the most effective protection against free radicals found till date in nature. Astaxanthin is an antioxidant that helps in reducing the pain and swelling associated with sunburn.

With so many developments happening in beauty field, it is a good idea to wait and watch for the new versions of this sunscreen.

Why Are Tomatoes Red?

Tomatoes are a significant ingredient in several food preparations. Whether they are used in a sauce, solid, puree or gravy form, tomatoes are a delicious and juicy treat. When tomatoes are raw, they are green in colour. However, the moment they start ripening they change colour and turn red. Have you ever wondered why this happens? Let’s find out.

Tomatoes have the chlorophyll pigment when they are raw and hence they are green in colour. As they start ripening, the pigment lycopene becomes dominant and this is why tomatoes turn red.

Lycopene is a carotenoid and belongs to the same family as beta-carotene. It is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals; especially those derived from oxygen. It is highly unsaturated hydrocarbon and contains 11 conjugated and 2 unconjugated double bonds making it longer than any other carotenoid. Lycopene obtained from plants tends to exist in an all-trans configuration, which is the most thermodynamically stable form. It protects against prostate cancer, breast cancer, atherosclerosis, and other coronary artery diseases.

Also, this pigment reduces LDL or low-density lipoprotein oxidation, which helps reduce cholesterol levels in blood. Preliminary research has also revealed that the chemical properties of lycopene helps reduce the risk of macular degenerative disease, serum lipid oxidation, and cancers of the lung, bladder, cervix, and skin.

It is important to let the tomatoes turn red in order to bring out the lycopene (the CAS number is 502-65-8) pigment, which is why they must be allowed to arrive at the mature stage. The rate at which a tomato turns red depends on the variety and size of tomatoes. Small varieties like a cherry tomato will ripen faster while large varieties will take longer.

Temperature also plays a part in this process. Extremely cold or hot temperatures will not let lycopene and carotene to develop easily. It tends to only show up only between 50 and 85 degrees. There is nothing like the taste of a fresh bright red tomato salad with a sprinkle of salt to delight your taste buds on a hot summer day. So go get one and reap the juicy benefits!

What Is Microdermabrasion?

No matter what age, we always desire beautiful and flawless skin. Even the slightest blemish or abnormal pattern of skin can disturb us. When this happens, we look out for skin treatment options right from scrubbing, chemical peels and buying new products. One of these new breakthrough technologies in skincare is ‘Microdermabrasion’. Here is all that you wish to know about this procedure.

What is Microdermabrasion?
Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure that removes the outermost layer of dry dead skin cells. It is a non-invasive skin treatment that requires no anesthesia. Many people use this procedure to diminish the visibility of fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, enlarged pores, coarse skin or textured skin. It is also used to treat acne.

Types of Microdermabrasion
Crystal microdermabrasion involves the spraying of micro crystals of aluminium dioxide, which is actually corundum powder (its chemical formula is Al2O3 and the CAS No. is 1302-74-5), on the skin. The aluminium dioxide is a very fine but hard substance. Aluminium dioxide powder resembles sand and the procedure is similar to sand-blasting. It helps remove the top layer of the dead cells present on skin. At times it can be uncomfortable around the sensitive tissue of the mouth and nose.

Diamond microdermabrasion is a new technology and uses an exfoliating tool. The tip of the tool is covered with tiny diamonds. During the treatment, the dermatologist will rub the diamond microdermabrasion tip against the skin to slough off the top layer of dead skin cells. The diamond machine then suctions or vacuums the loose dead skin cells off the face. In addition to increasing blood flow, the suction also stimulates the collagen and elastin within the skin. Increased blood flow gives your skin a healthy glow while collagen and elastin promote stronger skin.

You also get at-home kits, which are usually mild and can be safely used on a weekly basis. But remember, before indulging in any of these activities, consult a proper dermatologist!

The Relation Between Wine Making And Chemistry

Wine is indeed an indispensable part of any celebration. But have you ever thought of why wine tastes so good and which factors contribute to the taste of wine and how is wine brewed, what kind of chemistry is involved? Well, let us unlock all these questions.

No celebration is complete without wine. But have you ever wondered why wine tastes so good and what kind of chemistry is involved in brewing it? Today we answer these questions!

Wine is made from grapes. Besides containing water, grapes contain two different sugars: glucose and fructose and chemicals like tartaric acid, malic acid, amino acids and a few others. All of these determine the character of the wine produced. The most important chemical reaction in the wine making process is the breaking down of glucose by yeast, resulting in the formation of ethanol and carbon dioxide as gas. There are many important factors at this stage, which affect the wine.

First, the sulphur dioxide gas is passed through the crushed grapes to kill wild yeasts. If this is not done the yeasts would compete with one another and the fermentation process would stop prematurely.

Followed by this is the control of the pH or acidity level of the grape pulp. If the grapes are too sweet or if their pH is too high then fewer flavours are produced in the wine. The pH can be lowered by adding tartaric acid at the start of the fermentation process.

Fermentation is an exothermic process. Heat is produced by the reaction but there are various reasons for keeping the temperature controlled and as low as possible. Yeast stops growing as temperatures increase and will die at higher temperatures. Also at lower temperatures, the colours and flavours are extracted from the skin and the by-products such as esters and aromatic compounds are produced which add to the flavour and also the clarity of the wine.

It has been said that regular consumption of wine in moderation is good for you (if you are of legal age of course!). Studies have shown that wine drinkers are less prone to heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Combating diseases through wine is done because of the presence of certain chemicals. The antioxidant resveratrol present in wine helps in reducing cholesterol and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. But these chemicals can also be found in other food and drinks as well.

Pinning Down A Cobalt-Catalyzed Hydrogen Evolution Mechanism

By designing and using a tailor-made catalyst to slowly mediate electrochemical combination of protons to produce hydrogen, researchers at California Institute of Technology have detected an elusive reaction intermediate and deduced key steps in the mechanism of the hydrogen evolution reaction.

The investigation may offer new strategies for designing fast-acting, inexpensive catalysts that tap electrical energy to liberate hydrogen from water. Such electrocatalysts may be incorporated into future devices that convert solar energy to electrical energy, which in turn splits water into O2 and H2. H2 can be stored as a source of carbon-free chemical energy.

To probe the reaction mechanism, the Caltech team designed a catalyst, a Co-tri(diphenylphosphino) complex, that mediates H2 evolution slowly enough to allow the processes to be monitored. On the basis of NMR spectroscopy, the team, which includes Smaranda C. Marinescu, Jay R. Winkler, and Harry B. Gray, reports that the key intermediate is a previously undetected Co(III) hydride.

According to Gray, the study shows that electron transfer converts the Co(III) hydride to a Cobalt(II) hydride (its CAS number is 21041-93-0), which reacts in acid solution to acquire a proton and liberate H2. The work also shows that a competing process, in which two Co(III) hydride complexes react homolytically to split off a molecule of hydrogen, proceeds far more slowly than the Co(II) protonation step.

“This study provides new insights into the mechanism of cobalt catalysts for hydrogen production,” says Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, a chemistry professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She notes that the novel aspects of this study are the characterization of the transient Co complex and a kinetics analysis that reveals two competing pathways. “The mechanistic insights gained from this work are likely to assist in the design of more effective catalysts for hydrogen production,” she adds.

Cancer Research Yields Unexpected Way to Produce Nylon

The finding, described in the Sept. 23, 2012, issue of the journal Nature Chemical Biology, arose from an intriguing notion that some of the genetic and chemical changes in cancer tumors might be harnessed for beneficial uses.

Nylon is a ubiquitous material, used in carpeting, upholstery, auto parts, apparel and other products. A key component for its production is adipic acid, which is one of the most widely used chemicals in the world. Currently, adipic acid is produced from fossil fuel, and the pollution released from the refinement process is a leading contributor to global warming.

Reitman said he and colleagues delved into the adipic acid problem based on similarities between cancer research techniques and biochemical engineering. Both fields rely on enzymes, which are molecules that convert one small chemical to another. Enzymes play a major role in both healthy tissues and in tumors, but they are also used to convert organic matter into synthetic materials such as adipic acid.

One of the most promising approaches being studied today for environmentally friendly adipic acid production uses a series of enzymes as an assembly line to convert cheap sugars into adipic acid. However, one critical enzyme in the series, called a 2-hydroxyadipate dehydrogenase, has never been produced, leaving a missing link in the assembly line.

They were right. The functional mutation observed in cancer could be constructively applied to other closely related enzymes, creating a beneficial outcome – in this case the missing link that could enable adipic acid production from cheap sugars. The next step will be to scale up the overall adipic acid production process, which remains a considerable undertaking.

Yan, a professor in the Department of Pathology and senior author of the study, said the research demonstrates how an investment in medical research can be applied broadly to solve other significant issues of the day.

A Common Material Used For CDs

Today, with the discovery of discs or CDs, we do have CD cases to store these data storage devices. The material used for packing and also in CD cases plastic model kits is called as polystyrene. Let us now find out how this useful material came into existence.

In the year 1839 German apothecary Edward Simon accidentally discovered polystyrene. This discovery was recorded on the website of the Plastics Historical Society. Edward discovered a new chemical called as “Styrol” which was an oily substance that he had isolated from a natural resin. He had hardened the resin for a few days and assumed that it had oxidised. In 1845, English chemist John Blyth and German chemist August Willhelm von Hoffmann proved that the same reaction took place in the absence of oxygen, showing that it was not oxidation.

In the year 1866, Marcelin Berthelot demonstrated that the hard material was actually a polymer. The problem was that the monomer was very unstable and used to turn into the polymer before it should thereby preventing the useful application of polystyrene, as it came to be known in the mid-twentieth century. In the year 1922, a step forward was taken when Dufraisse and Moureu found that the monomer could be stabilised by adding small amounts of aromatic amines and phenols.

Wide Usage
The only problem with polystyrene is that it is not bio-degradable. It is light in weight and hence it floats on water and is easily blown by wind. The polymer which is otherwise hard and colourless can be cast into moulds with very fine detail. In this form it was used for economical, rigid plastic items, such as plastic model assembly kits, plastic cutlery, and CD cases. Butadiene/styrene co-polymers were used to produce synthetic rubber, and this was used extensively during the Second World War.

Of course, Polystyrene’s main use now is in its expanded form. This form is produced by heating a mixture of polystyrene and a gaseous blowing agent like pentane or carbon dioxide. With the help of steam foam is made, which is then cooled to make the material most commonly associated with the name polystyrene. The bubbles of the trapped air in the material give it very low thermal conductivity thereby making it useful as an insulation material in building applications. It is also used for many types of packaging where fragile material needs protection from impact damage.

Chemists Score Fluorination Of Alkyl

Thanks to work by Princeton University’s John T.Groves and coworkers, chemists now have a general method to directly fluorinate alkyl C–H bonds. The operationally simple reaction features a manganese porphyrin catalyst and easily handled fluoride salts as the fluorine source. It allows difficult fluorinations under mild reaction conditions at previously inaccessible sites on an array of aliphatic molecules of medicinal importance.

Fluorine chemistry has been on a hot streak during the past five years, with researchers cranking out one paper after another describing advances in organic synthesis. Even in this context, the new reaction by Groves and coworkers is advantageous because it works on substrates other than aromatic or unsaturated compounds and doesn’t involve cross-coupling or tricky organofluorine reagents. The reaction is also unusual in that the catalyst is not a traditional transition-metal complex.

“This is really powerful chemistry that will be super useful in both academic and industrial sectors,” comments Phil S. Baran of Scripps Research Institute. “It is a mechanistically intriguing transformation that has been on many people’s wish list for years.”

Groves says that his group was inspired by its 2010 discovery of an aliphatic chlorination reaction using a manganese porphyrin as the catalyst and hypochlorite ion (OCl–) as the chlorine source. Groves says this reaction got him thinking that analogous—but much more difficult—aliphatic fluorination might be possible if the right fluoride source could be found and a key manganese oxo-fluoride intermediate could be generated.

The researchers discovered that a combination of silver fluoride and tetrabutylammonium fluoride trihydrate (its CAS number is 87749-50-6) works as a fluoride source, and oxidizing the manganese porphyrin with iodosylbenzene can generate the oxo complex. In their proposed mechanism, worked out with computational chemist William A. Goddard III and coworkers at Caltech, the starting Mn(III) porphyrin chloride is fluorinated and then oxidized to form the Mn(V) oxo-fluoride species. The oxo complex abstracts an alkyl hydrogen atom from the substrate to create an alkyl radical.

Harvard University’s Tobias Ritter says the new method “is a quantum leap in fluorination” . “The reaction will serve as a stepping-stone for applications in several fields.” For example, the low cost of fluoride salts may enable new economically viable methods for large-scale manufacture of commodity fluorochemicals, he says. In addition, using 18F in the synthesis could quickly access new labeled molecules for positron emission tomography imaging.

Scientists Develop New Material to Increase Shelf Life of Beer

Scientists at CRANN, the nanoscience institute based at Trinity College Dublin, have partnered with world-leading brewing company SABMiller on a project to increase the shelf life of bottled beer in plastic bottles. The new deal will see SABMiller invest in the project over a two year period.

Professor Jonathan Coleman and his team in CRANN are using nanoscience research methods to develop a new material that will prolong the shelf-life of beer in plastic bottles. Current plastic bottles have a relatively short shelf life, as both oxygen and carbon dioxide can permeate the plastic and diminish the flavour.

The new material, when added to plastic bottles will make them extremely impervious, meaning that oxygen cannot enter and that the carbon dioxide cannot escape, thus preserving the taste and ‘fizz’.

Dr. Diarmuid O’Brien, Executive Director, CRANN said, “This partnership with SABMiller highlights the applicability of nanoscience and its relevance to everyday products. Improving every consumable from our lighting, our cars, our electronic devices, medicines, clothing and food and drink is being researched by nanoscientists worldwide. Ireland is amongst the world leaders in this area, ranked 6th globally for materials science. Because of the work like that of Professor Coleman and his peers, last year CRANN received over €5 million in non-Exchequer funding to progress research projects. Companies worldwide, like SABMiller, are taking notice. We are delighted to partner on this exciting project and look forward to its results.”

The team will exfoliate nano-sheets of boron nitride (the CAS number is 10043-11-5), each with a thickness of approximately 50,000 times thinner than one human hair. These nano-sheets will be mixed with plastic, which will result in a material that is extremely impervious to gas molecules. The molecules will be unable to diffuse through the material and shelf life will be increased. As well as increasing the shelf life of the beer itself, less material is required in production, reducing cost and environmental impact.

Professor Coleman’s technique which involves the exfoliation of boron nitride, and other layered materials, has been published in Science.

Baked Goods Could Become Bioplastics

That day-old Starbucks croissant may not need to go into the garbage after all. A new technique developed by Carol S. K. Lin, a biochemical engineer at the City University of Hong Kong, could turn uneaten pastries and coffee grounds into chemicals which could be used to formulate bioplastics and other substances. Lin presented her research team’s findings in August at the 244th national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

“Our new process addresses the food waste problem by turning Starbucks trash into treasure – detergent ingredients and bioplastics that can be incorporated into other useful products,” Lin said in a news release issued by the ACS.

Lin and her research team had already been developing the tools to do this when they were first approached by the nonprofit The Climate Group, which has formed a coalition of public and private partners to try to develop what their website refers to as a “low carbon future.” One of the Climate Group’s corporate partners is Starbucks Hong Kong, which was seeking new ways to reduce the amount of waste generated by its stores.

In this case, the process developed at Lin’s lab blended the old baked goods with a mix of enzyme-secreting fungi. Those fungi, in turn, broke down the carbohydrates in the foods back into simple sugars. From there, the sugars went into a fermenter. There they were exposed to bacteria which now had the job of breaking the sugar into succinic acid (the CAS number is 110-15-6), a colorless, odorless substance that is heavily used in the food industry as a sweetener but can also be used in the production of a wide variety of materials, including medicines, bioplastics and even laundry detergent.

Putting the bakery goods and coffee grounds through a biorefining process would also have the added benefit of keeping a lot of waste out of the waste stream while also reducing pollution from incineration. According to the ACS, Starbucks Hong Kong produces nearly 10 million pounds of spent coffee grounds annually. Starbucks Hong Kong helped Lin’s research by donating the spent coffee grounds and unsold bakery items as well as money generated by the sale of a gift set of “Care for Our Planet Cookies.” The campaign generated about $6,400 for the research efforts, Lin told GE’s Ecomagination.

Lin said that the biorefinery process could be used for all kinds of food waste and could be commercialized on a large scale with additional funding from investors, according to the ACS press release. Meanwhile, her lab has funding from the Hong Kong government and has applied to set up a “pilot-scale lab” in Germany.