Nanotechnology and Chemical Engineering News, Articles, Videos

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Welcome to the Chemical Engineering News portal, your source of news, articles, links, and resources about chemical engineering, nanotechnology, and anything science related!

This website has initially started as a blog of a poor chemical engineering student by the name of Paulina (that’s me!) and a place for her to keep her resume for those who are searching the web for a Chemical Engineer Portfolio. When Paulina realized that her little blog has reached thousands of readers from over a 100 different countries, she decided to devote more time to covering news from the science world. Due to her education and professional background, the focus remains on Chemical Engineering and Nanotechnology but anything related to laboratories and science if a fair game to be written about!

Pro Bono Education Help – in addition to providing nanotechnology, chemical and engineering news, Paulina started providing free help to students in related fields (chemical and engineering in general), as well as advice on area of study selection. It started with students contacting her through the Chemical Engineering News website, Google Plus, and Facebook. Most commonly asked questions included how much do chemical engineers make? are there many jobs in nanotechnology? Should I study chemistry or chemical engineering? which degree is harder? etc. – Paulina did all she could to answer all of them and it grew from there. People started asking more advanced questions, such as help in selecting a project for a thesis statement/final project in B.S. in Chemical Engineering. If you’d like some advice on school, degree selection, or anythign related science(especially Nanotechnology and Chemical Engineerign), please us the email form located on the Contact page.

Paulina and Her Crocodile - The Founders of Chemical Engineering News

A Word From The Creator of Chemical Engineering News: – Updated: by at UIC – Department of Chemical Engineering, 810 S Clinton St Chicago, IL 60607, On 2015/01/28

Hello and welcome! I would like to sincerely first thank you for visiting my website!
When I first started the website in May of 2012 I have not dared to dream that it would be of interest to so many people! When I reached the first 2,000 readers I was simply stunned (as of July 2013 the website is getting almost double that amount every month and growing)! That, combined with so many kind letters that I have received from my visitors gave me the motivation needed to continue writing! You might imagine that studying for a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering degree does not leave much time for blogging and answering fan-mail but I promise to answer every email I receive and continue writing as often as humanly possible – all thanks to you my kind visitor!

Thank you once again and please feel free to browse the Chemical Engineering News website and say hi using the email form on my contact page!

Sincerely Yours,

Author Archive

Planet Made of Diamond Twice the Size of Earth Discovered in Outer Space

Scientists have made a stunning discovery 40 light-years away from us in Cancer the crab constellation. A Yale University team of researchers under the leadership of Nikku Madhusudhan claim to have found a Super-Earth orbiting a star. That was back in 2012. Now, another team found an Earth-sized planet also made of diamond! The findings have just been published in a peer-reviews Astrophysical Journal.

The newly discover star (not a planet as in the case of 55 Cancri e) is so far the coldest and faintest white dwarf star discovered to date. It also has a companion star, a pulsar designated as PSR J2222-0137. The white dwarf is a star that nearly exhausted its nuclear fuel, so it begins to cool down. In this case the star became so cold that carbon contained within it has crystallized into a diamond.

So, its not one but two diamonds at least matching the size of our planet. If there are two, can there be more? If scientists are to be believed – and I hope they are – mega-sized diamonds are a common occurrence in space. They might be commonplace enough to warrant a new classification of planets made of carbon turned into diamond, at least that’s what National Geographic stipulates.

So, what does it mean for us? Well, for one – if you are investing into diamonds you better sell them before several billion years pass on the off-chance that our Sun turns into diamond itself! :)

What do you think? Are those planets or stars actually made of diamonds?



El Chupacabra Captured Alive in South Texas [Video]

Alleged El Chupacabra Captured in Texas

Alleged El Chupacabra Captured in Texas

A live specimen of the legendary blood-sucking monster ‘El Chupacabra’ has apparently been captured by a Texas resident, CNN News reports.

According to the article published by CNN, a couple from Ratcliffe, TX has spotted a freakishly looking canine munching on some corn up in a tree on their property.

Texan Jackie Stock describes the creature her husband subsequently captured and put in a cage as having a “hairless back, large claws, and countless teeth.” The description fits the mythical El Chupacabra, a beast from North and Central American folklore, sightings of which has been reported for hundreds of years, mainly in the Southern United States and Mexico.
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Nanotechnology Courses in Chicago, IL

Ottie, one of the Chemical Engineering News readers sent in a question asking if there are  any “Chicago City Colleges that are offering nanotechnology courses directly, not through a 3rd party?” The answer, unfortunatelly, is no – at the present time there are no Nanotech classes offered by the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC). There are some alternatives though, so lets take a look at the Nanotechnology courses in Chicago, IL (as well as the Chicagoland suburbs).

Back in 2012, Oakton Community College announced new Nanotechnology class offering. According to the press release:

“Fundamentals of Nanotechnology” kicks off the new Nanotechnology Employment, Education, and Economic Development Initiative (NE3I), a collaborative effort to bring nanotechnology education to Oakton and area high schools. Other partners include the Village of Skokie; the Illinois Science +Technology Park (IS+TP), housing more than a dozen science and technology companies; NanoInk, Inc., which develops nanotechnology curriculum; and the North Suburban Educational Region for Vocational Education (NSERVE), a career and technical education consortium of nine high schools in Chicago’s northern suburbs.”

I can definitely recommend this initiative, because of first-hand knowledge of the  program’s creation. During my employment at NanoInk, Inc. (2012-2013), I have worked with the NanoProfessor team (NanoInk’s education arm). As part of that initiative, I have been developing labs for use in Nanotechnology courses and publications. I have also personally trained the professors from Oakton Community College – chiefly I had the privilidge of “instructing the instructors” in use of various machines used in Nanotech industry. Among others, we covered the use of NLP200, Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Fluorescent Microscope, and qNano.

Unfortunately, Chicago is not big on Nanotechnology yet, so I double checked that Nanotech classes are still offered at Oakton – they are! According to the Oakton Community College 2013-2014 course catalog, Fall ’14 semmester features a nanotech course classified under the Pgysics Department – PHY 140: Fundamentals of Nanotechnology 1. The course’s description from the catalog tells us that:

“Course introduces the nanoworld, including topics in nanophysics, nanochemistry and nanobiology, including forces, fluidics, wave nature of light, atoms and molecules, nanoscale structures, biological function at the nanoscale and practical applications in each field. Hands-on laboratory activities make use of dip-pen nanolithography, atomic force microscopy, and fluorescence microscopy. Prerequisite: MAT 070 or placement into MAT 110, and one year of high school biology and one year of high school chemistry. Fee $50.”

Just to be sure, I checked the catalog of each and every one of the seven City Colleges of Chicago but failed to find any Nanotechnology classes. The only reference to Nanotech courses I could find on was a press release announcing a new partnership with NanoInk – now a defunct company, so it seems the program has ground to a halt, at least for now.

That being said, if you are a CCC student, check with your professors about internship opportunities at Nanotechnology companies – that’s how I found my way to NanoInk in the first place.

There are some other opportunities too. Northwestern has several Nanotechnology learning opportunities and Nanotechnology research. There are also PhD programs at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Chicago, as well as several seminars. Northwestern sponsors an annual Nanotech seminar in September and there should be an upcoming Nanotechnology presentation at UIC as well – I will post more information as soon as it becomes available.

I will keep updating this page with new programs and events, so please check back in the near future. Also, I suggest keeping an eye on the U.S. Government’s National Nanotechnology Initiative

Thanks for stopping by my Chemical Engineering and Nanotechnology News website!


Curing CVI – U.S. Researcher Invents a New Organ: a Miniature Heart!

The saying ‘Need is the mother of invention’ has been proven true once again! This time it has been Q.E.D’ed by Narine Sarvazyan, Ph.D., a researcher from George Washington University who invented a new human organ – a mini heart.

Dr. Sarvazyan needed to find a new way of delivery (return) of blood from veins that are absent a functioning valve. In order to do that, she turned her attention towards stem cells – instead of using them for repairing existing organs, she decided to defy the canon and use them to create a completely new organ – first such an application of stem cells in modern science!
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Personal Injury Attorney: No Litigation in Nanotech-Linked Mesothelioma Cases

Last February, I published an article investigating alleged links between carbon nanotubes, one of the wonder children of Nanotechnology, and Mesothelioma, a rare type of malignant cancer. Now, a year on, it is high time to take another look at the subject. I started by checking with a personal injury attorney – after all, if a new source of cancer is found, especially one originating in a workplace environment, an injury lawyer would be one of the first  people to find out about it. Even so, I needed somebody qualified to answer my questions.
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Environmental Engineering Program Offered at University of New Hampshire!

Good news for engineering students and professionals in New England – UNH now offers an Environmental Engineering Program! I have been contacted by a representative of University of New Hampshire (Linda Conti from the Professional Development & Training department) asking to share this info with the Chemical Engineering News readers.

University of New Hampshire Continuing Education for Professionals offers a new online course as part of the Environmental Engineering Program – Environmental Sampling & Analysis. The class is meant for both rookie and experienced professionals who are in the environmental remediation field and engage in testing and analyzing water, soil, and hazmat materials.
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Smart Contact Lens from Google can Measure Wearer’s Glucose Levels

Smart lens that can measure glucose levels in human body - image curtsy of Google.

Smart lens that can measure glucose levels in human body – image curtsy of Google.

BREAKING NEWS from the world of very small technologies: the tech giant Google has just announced it has a working prototype of a contact lens that can measure the glucose levels in the body of the person wearing them. Tiny sensors, located between layers of the lens, test for the amount of glucose in persons tears.

According to researchers from Google, the lens has a “tiny” wireless chip and a “miniaturised” glucose sensor that is embedded between two layers of material the lens is composed of.

The lens is still in a prototype stage and we will have to wait quite a while before they become commercially available. Google is working on a miniature LED light that would light up when worrying levels of glucose are detected.

“It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype [..] We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease” – Google Blog.
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5 Chemical Engineering Companies I Would Like to Work at

Last year, I wrote an article about top 5 Nanotech companies I’d like to work at but since this is a Chemical Engineering News website, I thought I should also compile some chemical engineering companies ranked by my interest in working for them. Since there are no “Chemical Engineering Companies” per se, so lets just use the term for corporations from various fields that extensively hire chemical engineers, because chemical engineering is a backbone of their operations. So, without further ado, the top 5 chemical engineering companies I would love to work at!
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Group ISO Merchant Services – Monetize Your Science Blog!

If you’ve been convinced by my article with reason to start a science blog and followed my suggestions from the how-to article on the same subject that I posted back in July and August of 2012, chances are that you have a fully functioning websites with readers who subscribe to your news feed. If so, you are probably ready to start monetizing your website.
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Happy Boxing Day!

Happy Boxing Day!

Happy Boxing Day!

Happy Boxing Day to all scientists and science lovers from the UK and all of the Commonwealth Nations!

For those of you who don’t know of this holiday, it is a day after Christmas – December 26, which in many European countries is celebrated as the Second Day of Christmas. The name comes from the English custom of presenting gifts in boxes – not boxing in an arena :) Boxing day is celebrated in United Kingdom, the Commonwealth of Nations, various former British colonies and dominions, as well as countries with diaspora from those countries.

So, once again – Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day, and a Happy New Year to all Nanotechnology and Chemical Engineering enthusiasts from around the World!

I hope you all have a great Holiday Season and all your wishes come true in 2014!



Benzene Cancer Link Study Shows Increased Risk of Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) at Low Exposure

Benzene Rings and Cancer: Personal Risk of MDS

Benzene and cancer link? Of course. It’s been widely known that benzene is a carcinogen. It’s a relatively more recent development, however, that a myelodysplastic syndrome risk with benzene also occurs. MDS symptoms in petroleum workers were found to be far more likely. The culprit? Benzene rings. That’s right- to paraphrase somewhat, benzene causes MDS.

History of Benzene Danger

Benzene is brought up in most introductory college chemistry courses. You probably learned about benzene rings in your first organic chem class, about how their alternating single and double bonds and free electron made the molecule something of a novelty, as well as a puzzle to figure out historically. It’s true, benzene rings are wonderfully interesting parts of nature.

Benzene Structure Diagram

Well-known structure of benzene. Image from Toxipedia.

Historically, benzene was thought to be useful for a few things we don’t still use it for today. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, benzene was actually used as an after-shave lotion. Nowadays, of course, chemical engineers know better than to rub this chemical onto our skin. It was still used in high school and college chemistry labs up until somewhat recently, and not even fifty years ago you could buy a tub of it at your local corner hardware store. Wow! The dangers of benzene had not become quite clear (or quite as publicized), not yet. Of course, half a century ago our nation didn’t have the same kind of personal injury lawyers it does today, either.

Benzene Use Today

Benzene today is contained in limited amounts in gasoline, and also used as an intermediary chemical in all sorts of various laboratories. Maybe you’ve handled it yourself, though hopefully you’ve followed all the appropriate lab procedures! (Chemical Engineering News would like to take this time to remind you that you should always follow safe lab practices. Safety first!) However, anything made from various complex petroleum hydrocarbon products can give off amounts of benzene in the right situations, and cigarette smoke contains a relatively fair amount too. If you’re a cigarette smoker, or you breathe in a lot of second-hand smoke or city smog, you’re consuming benzene as well.

Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) and Benzene

A study was done late last year that didn’t get a lot of attention, but may have even more impact on benzene safety concerns. The study, titled “Myelodysplastic syndrome and benzene exposure among petroleum workers: an international pooled analysis,” showed that petroleum workers- who are regularly exposed to benzene due to the nature of their job- had a greatly increased risk of MDS symptoms.

The study also looked at other health issues, such as acute myeloid leukemia, which benzene is known to cause. But the benzene association with myelodysplastic syndrome, and at such low-level exposure, is new to us. At lower exposures, MDS is the greater benzene risk.

Petroleum Oil Workers in a Smokey Environment

Petroleum oil workers in a smokey environment. Image from Yahoo! News/Reuters.

Although there haven’t been any reported cases yet, this benzene MDS risk already has the attention of one Houston injury attorney. The law group made a benzene cancer link blog post that goes into detail on OSHA standards. In fact, the OSHA standards may not be high enough, as they claim benzene exposure up to 5 ppm in a fifteen minute period is safe, while the academic study found exposures of just 3 ppm for the same amount of time resulted in six times the chance to develop MDS from benzene. Oil workers who are at risk might want to look into their legal options, especially since these things may take years or even decades to develop.

Listen, we all know that benzene is dangerous. Nobody is selling it at the corner hardware store anymore. But even the levels we think might be safe, are actually causing us greatly increased chances of MDS and other diseases too- including chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Are laws and regulations going to be changed? Or will it take a major personal injury lawsuit for this to get noticed? Only time- and more chemical engineering research- will tell.