December 16, 2002
Volume 80, Number 50
CENEAR 80 50 pp. 43-44
ISSN 0009-2347



The first recombinantly derived spider silk fibers with properties substantially similar to those of natural spider silk were produced by Anthoula Lazaris of Nexia Biotechnologies, Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, and coworkers [Science, 295, 472 (2002); C&EN, Jan. 21, page 36]. Potential applications include sutures, biodegradable fishing lines, and body armor.

Fibers that combine the strength of a polymer and the reflectivity of a mirror were devised by Yoel Fink and coworkers at MIT [Science, 296, 510 (2002); C&EN, April 22, page 8]. The fibers could find use in telecommunications or as encoding devices.

A two-photon dye that may permit device microfabrication to be carried out in three dimensions and with greater efficiency, reliability, and speed than previously possible was designed, synthesized, and demonstrated by Seth R. Marder and Joseph W. Perry of the University of Arizona, Christopher K. Ober of Cornell Univer-sity, and coworkers [Science, 296, 1106 (2002); C&EN, May 13, page 9]. Absorption of two photons by the dye leads to the production of acid, which can be used to activate microfabrication reactions.

A new class of hydrogels--diblock copolypeptides with hydrophilic and hydrophobic regions--was prepared and characterized by Timothy J. Deming of UC Santa Barbara and coworkers [Nature, 417, 424 (2002); C&EN, May 27, page 14]. The hydrogels could find use in drug delivery and tissue engineering.

Jennifer A. Lewis of UIUC and co-workers used colloidal gels (inks) to construct intricate 3-D structures with micrometer-size features and overall dimensions of a few millimeters [Langmuir, 18, 5429 (2002); C&EN, July 1, page 7]. Possible uses include advanced ceramics, photonic materials, and catalyst supports.

FLASHY Fibers designed by Fink and coworkers combine the strength of a polymer with the reflectivity of a mirror.
A technique for making tiny bimetallic "eggs," in which a metal alloy core is encased by an alloy shell, was developed by Ryosuke Kainuma of Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan, and coworkers [Science, 297, 990 (2002); C&EN, Aug. 12, page 30]. The structures have potential automotive, electronics, and industrial machinery applications.

Laurence D. Marks of Northwestern University and coworkers used a novel technique for determining solid-surface crystal structures to analyze the perovskite SrTiO3, enabling them to formulate predictive chemical rules for the structure of other perovskite surfaces [Nature, 419, 55 (2002); C&EN, Sept. 9, page 13]. Perovskites have important ferroelectric, colossal magnetoresistance, and superconductivity applications.

Ann E. Mattsson and Dwight R. Jennison of Sandia National Laboratories developed a first-principles method to correct metal and metal oxide surface energies [Surf. Sci., 520, L611 (2002); C&EN, Nov. 11, page 15]. This permits different types of density functional theory calculations of interfacial adhesion energies to be consistent with each other and with experimental measurements. Lack of such agree ment had been a long-standing problem in the field.

And Robert M. K. Carlson and coworkers at ChevronTexaco, Richmond, Calif., isolated nanometer-sized diamondoid hydrocarbons of great variety from petroleum [Science, published online Nov. 29; C&EN, Dec. 2, page 13]. Most such compounds--of which adamantane is the simplest example--have not previously been available either synthetically or from natural sources.



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