Saturday morning coffee [March 2 2013]

MUG_WisconsinWelcome to March everyone. So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

I picked up the coffee mug to the right in Fitchburg, WI last summer while on a business trip. I drove there from Chicago after stopping off to visit a hospital in Winfield, IL. Wisconsin was a pretty nice place to visit in the summer. I wasn’t able to do a bunch of touristy stuff, but I did get a chance to see a movie at one of the nicest movie theaters I’ve ever been in. The theater was big, and it had a piano in the lobby. Strange thing about Wisconsin, they have the nicest highway rest stops I’ve ever used. If you’re ever in California I’d avoid the rest stops; good place to skip.
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [March 2 2013]

Saturday morning coffee [November 24 2012]

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

The coffee mug to the right is from Denver, Colorado. I have been in Denver twice now, once in the summertime and once in the late fall/early winter. It’s a nice place, but not what you’d expect. Well, at least it’s not what I expected. With a nickname like “Mile High” I expected to be going up and down mountainous roads all the time. Not the case. It is much more flat than I expected. The downtown area has a small town feel to it, and the the 16th Street outdoor mall area was very nice. I found a lot of cool things to do down there in the evening. I also found the Mellow Mushroom pizza joint. Dude, that was some seriously good pizza. One thing is for sure, the views were spectacular. I ended up on the 9th floor of one of the hotels I was in. Outside my window was a picturesque view of show capped mountains and green trees. Overall it’s a nice place to visit. Word of caution though about the airport, it’s a mess at times. I’ve only been through there a dozen or so times and have gotten burned on a few occasions. Consider yourself warned.
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [November 24 2012]

Nano-FTIR: A new era in modern analytical chemistry

Basque Research: “Researchers from the nanoscience research center NanoGUNE (San Sebastian, Spain), the university of Munich (LMU, Germany) and Neaspec GmbH (Martinsried, Germany) present a new instrumental development that solves a prime question of materials science and nanotechnology: how to chemically identify materials at the nanometer scale (F. Huth et al., Nano Letters, 2012, DOI: 10.1021/nl301159v).

Nanoscale chemical identification and mapping of materials now becomes possible with nano-FTIR, an optical technique that combines scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM) and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. By illuminating the metalized tip of an atomic force microscope (AFM) with a broadband infrared laser, and analyzing the backscattered light with a specially designed Fourier Transform spectrometer, the researchers could demonstrate local infrared spectroscopy with a spatial resolution of less than 20 nm. “Nano-FTIR thus allows for fast and reliable chemical identification of virtually any infrared-active material on the nanometer scale”, says Florian Huth, who performed the experiments.

An important aspect of enormous practical relevance is that the nano-FTIR spectra match extremely well with conventional FTIR spectra, while the spatial resolution is increased by more than a factor of 300 compared to 

conventional infrared spectroscopy. “The high sensitivity to chemical composition combined with ultra-high resolution makes nano-FTIR a unique tool for research, development and quality control in polymer chemistry, biomedicine and pharmaceutical industry” concludes Rainer Hillenbrand, leader of the Nanooptics group at nanoGUNE.””

I wonder if this could ever be used to provide real-time identification of medication in solid as well as aqueous form. How about real-time identification of counterfeit drugs? Sounds like lots of possibilities.

Fluted Filter Paper

I grabbed a coffee filter this morning to make a pot of coffee – something I’ve done hundreds of times – when I had a moment of nostalgia. The coffee filter took me back to my days in organic chemistry class in college when I used to create my own fluted filters for gravity filtration. I can’t tell you why I had the flashback. Perhaps it’s my body trying to deal with the 50 pounds of food I’ve ingested over the past couple of days; who knows.

Fluting filter paper is common practice in high school and college chemistry labs across the country. The process is done to increase the speed of the filtration process and give one a larger surface area onto which to collect the sample. Pretty low tech, but cool nonetheless. 

Augmented reality for chemists [video]

Boing Boing: “In a very cool video from Chemical and Engineering News, Art Olson of the Scripps Research Institute explains how chemists in his lab can predict how well the drugs they develop will work.

Olson’s lab prints 3D models of molecular structures, both targets—like the HIV protease enzyme in the video—and the drugs they’ve made to bond to those targets. The models are rigged up so that when Olson holds them in front of a webcam, they instantly interact with chemical analysis software his team has built. The result is a system that allows researchers to see, physically, how well the drugs fit their targets, and simultaneously test how well the two are likely to bond on a chemical level.”

A 3D printed molecule with augmented reality! This is downright awesome. There’s no other way to say it. Drug development will never be the same. The only question I have is… where can I get one for myself?