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, December 9, 2008

Another Use for Copper

I've just returned from a 5 day visit with my parents in Missouri (which partly explains my recent lack of postings). It was great to visit, but it's always good to come back home again. Unfortunately, "home" is 20 degrees colder, my wife's computer had stopped working, and everyone in the house has some sort of vicious stomach virus. I briefly considered going to a motel, but my wife would have killed me.


So I spent Monday passing out medicines, cleaning up various messes, mostly eating by myself, and fixing the computer. The computer's working now, which is more than I can say for the rest of the family. I've already resigned myself to the inevitability of becoming a patient myself within the next couple of days. Perhaps I should invest in some copper bedsheets.

Why copper, you ask?

I have previously discussed the anti-bacterial properties of silver and gold. The list of purchasable items containing silver grows daily, and includes bandages, socks, towels, bedsheets, ointments, plastic food containers, soaps, and washing machines. Gold is not at that level of marketability yet, with gold-laced soap being the main use of its anti-bacterial properties. So it only makes sense that copper, the third element in the 1B group, also exhibits some of these same properties. In fact, in Chili, the biggest suppler of copper, copper fibers are being added to socks, towels, pillow cases and underwear. Copper sponge filters are being tested for their ability to purify water. I suspect it won't be long before this becomes a new marketing opportunity.

Despite their anti-fungal properties, these elements may also be used in conjunction with fungi. In a novel approach, fungi are being used as templates for stabilizing gold nanoparticles. Under the right conditions, fungi can absorb microscopic metal particles onto their surfaces, creating unusual clusters of nanoparticles, and resulting in metal-fungus hybrids which are able to catalyze certain reactions. It's certainly a novel way of doing bioinorganic chemistry.

Gotta go. I hear some rather vile noises emanating from my son's bedroom.


solidlikearock said...

I know that the Grzybowski group is using copper nanoparticles as anti-fungal and anti-acne things. It's pretty interesting.


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