Neurochemistry, Novel Memory Chips, and Advances in Education: This Week in Chemistry

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Home / Neurochemistry, Novel Memory Chips, and Advances in Education: This Week in Chemistry
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Chemistry isn’t just test tubes in class – it’s made a huge difference in the way we live today. Image by Decoded Science, all rights reserved.

Chemistry affects our lives in every way, with advances taking place in labs around the world on a daily basis.

Let’s look at the latest news in this fascinating field: neurochemistry of concussions, the role of chemistry in novel computer memory chips, and simplifying chemical education.

Chemistry Provides Novel Memory Chips

The computer age was ushered into existence by the silicon chip; the silicon chip, however, may be eventually be replaced by a revolutionary development reported in the American Chemical Society’s on-line journal, ACS Nano.

Researchers from Taiwan and Saudi Arabia report replacing silicon with paper via print-based technologies.

Print-based technology, presently, has made headway into greener technologies with developments in 3-dimensional print-fabrication. The researchers are utilizing 3-dimensional print technologies develop flexible electronic components.

The components may see application in wearable computer technology.

Conventional paper (or cotton rag, for instance) is imprinted with carbon black which is followed by titanium dioxide and finally silver. The researchers report the three layers of imprinted technology can behave like non-volatile memory.

The economic incentives for paper-based electronics have an estimated cost of $ 0.06 cent/inch while the silicon wafers cost upwards to 4 orders more per inch.

The research development promises to hold further advancements in biocompatible computer hardware. Exciting developments await.

Beta-Amyloid structure

Beta-Amyloid Protein: This protein is attached to the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Image of Beta-Amyloid structure retrieved from ChEBI, EMBL-EBI.

Neurochemistry Advances

Concussions are a frequent occurrence in contact sports. The injuries that appear non-life-threatening at first, however can alter one’s quality of life years later.

Symptoms of dementia in ex-NFL football players appear similar to Alzheimer’s in the elderly people who never played contact sports – but is there really a link?

Neurologists needed evidence to connect the dementias affecting the brains of both elderly and the ex-NFL players, and they found it: The brains of former athletes differed from Alzheimer’s patients in several critical ways. There are bio-chemical markers distinguishing brains that have suffered numerous concussions from their Alzheimer’s counterparts.

While both brains had Amyloid proteins, the athlete’s brains had an additional change as well. Another type of protein was present, a “Tau protein.”

In research originating from Eli Lilly & Co, researchers are developing a new tracer molecule, T807, to aid neurologists in the treatment of dementia.

Their results confirm the observations of Medical Doctors and biologists: Dementia may result from contact sports.

Moreover, neuro-chemists have been able to accurately map affected regions of the brain and distinguish between Sport-effected dementia from Alzheimer’s type dementia.

Diglycine molecule model

The distinguishing feature of the protein the peptide chain. Peptides are chains of amino acids. This illustration of a simple protein model shows the peptide bond: diglycine. This is a diglycine molecule model of the simple peptide in proteins. Image built using Avogadro Open Source Software, all rights reserved.

Utilizing Positron Emission Tomography (PET), neuro-chemists administered two radio-labeled compounds to differentiate between the sport-effected dementia and Alzheimer’s type dementia.

Both compounds successfully mapped the affected regions and the new compound successfully differentiated whether the sufferer was an Alzheimer’s patient or a contact-sport patient.

The researchers originally reported results in Chemical and Engineering News by The American Chemical Society.

We await further results with interest.

Advances in Chemistry Education

Students frequently utilize the Beer-Lambert law in Analytical chemistry laboratory; the principles of use are to measure the amount of a chemical substance in a watery solution.

Commercial instrumentation such as a colorimeter is expensive to allocate and maintain, so instructors have taken it upon themselves to have students build their instruments using Legos (TM) and inexpensive electronics.

Educators from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway, report constructing a Lego (TM) sized colorimeter for laboratory use. The development utilizes a Lego (TM) ‘breadboard’ upon which a Lego (TM) equipped LED light is used to measure differences in light absorption.

The research is reported in the Journal of Chemical Education.

Advances in Neurochemistry and the Greening 0f Chemistry

Every day, we see reports on the ways in which we can use chemical logic to understand the workings of the mind, simplify computer technology, and improve resources for laboratory experimentation. Chemistry: It’s changing the world, one day at a time.

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