This blog is my attempt to reconnect with the world of chemistry. I have a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry and make a living doing research for a large company in Michigan. As times have changed, that company has changed its focus and I no longer have as much chance to do the basic, fundamental research which I most enjoy. Through this blog, I am hoping to recapture the magic which I felt during my graduate (and undergraduate) days in college. Expect topics on chemistry and alchemy along with some non-chemistry related items which I think might be interesting.

"The chymists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their pleasure among smoke and vapour, soot and flame, poisons and poverty; yet among all these evils I seem to live so sweetly that may I die if I would change places with the Persian King."

Johann Joachim Becher (phlogistonist)
Acta Laboratorii Chymica Monacensis, seu Physica Subterranea, (1669).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Nano-Rods and Sex Videos

Fortunately, my mother doesn't read this blog, or its titles.

In a continuation of what appears to be my rather unhealthy obsession with nanoparticles, I now read that gold nano-rods are useful in the treatment of cancer. If you are interested in the details, you may read about them here. My reason for mentioning these nano-rods has more to do with their synthesis, which utilizes ionic liquids as the solvent. This results in the formation of nano-rods, as opposed to the usual nano-spheres. [1]

Now ionic liquids aren't all that hard to make -- just heat a salt until it melts. In reality though, the term ionic salts is typically used to indicate salts which are liquids at room temperature, or at least below 100C. Ethylammonium nitrate is one example, with a melting point of 34C, but there are lots of them out there.

I’ve always thought ionic liquids were a pretty cool concept. A fluid made up totally of ions just seems so bizarre. As a class, they tend to have certain properties such as high electrical conductivities, low vapor pressures, and high heat capacities that make them excellent coolants. I had a chance to work on a project focusing on ionic liquids a few years ago, which was tempting since I would have been doing real synthetic chemistry again. However, based on reasons which have nothing to do with science, I chose not to work on that project. A decision which I am now very happy with, for reasons which I won't mention. (Never let it be said that the roads through industrial research careers are any less tricky to navigate than academic career paths.)

The use of ionic liquids as solvents is particularly intriguing. I mean, these liquids are more polar than water! Imagine the opportunities in synthesis. Both inorganic and organic chemists can use them, and anything that brings us closer together isn’t a bad thing.

Just in case you were disappointed with this post after reading the title, consider David Bradley's take on spray-on condoms. The video is particularly amusing.

[1] I never know whether I should use a hyphen after the term "nano," so I tend to be rather random with its use.


Ψ*Ψ said...

I tried using an ionic solvent in a reaction once, and it resulted in epic fail. :(
Pretty sure it was an evil substrate issue, though.

The Chemist said...

Heh, I thought the title had to do with something like this.

As to the totality of your post, I can do naught but utter a Simpsonesque, "Mmm... Ions."

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