Chemistry & Materials

If you have an interest in anything in the world, then you have an interest in chemistry because everything you hear, see, taste, smell and touch involves chemistry and chemicals. Our ability to understand the chemical make-up of things and chemical reactions has led to everything from modern food and drugs to plastics and computers.

Cracked particles in lithium-ion batteries

A multi-institute team of researchers has developed the most comprehensive view yet of lithium-ion battery electrodes, where most damage typically occurs from charging them repeatedly

New ice-shedding coating for large surfaces

A spray-on coating developed by University of Michigan researchers causes ice to fall away from large surfaces with just the force of a light breeze, or often from the weight of the ice itself

A new periodic table classifies droplet motions

Scientists have created a periodic table of droplet motions, inspired in part by parallels between the symmetries of atomic orbitals, which determine elements' positions on the classic periodic table, and the energies that determine droplet shapes

Delaying ice-frost formation using phase-switching liquids

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Engineering have described for the first time several unique properties of materials known as phase-switching liquids, or PSLs, that hold promise as next-generation anti-icing materials

The sound of science

James Madison University hosts a summer program that pairs deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals with hearing individuals in a research setting

How hard are these protein droplets?

University at Buffalo physicists are using innovative tools to study the properties of a bizarre class of molecules that may play a role in disease: proteins that cluster together to form spherical droplets inside human cells

Burst of morning gene activity tells plants when to flower

An international team of researchers has discovered that the gene FT -- the primary driver of the transition to flowering in plants each spring -- does something unexpected in Arabidopsis thaliana plants grown in natural environments, with implications for the artificial growing conditions scientists commonly used in the lab

The genetic path to biodiversity

With support from the National Science Foundation, developmental biologist Arnaud Martin and his team at George Washington University are using cutting-edge genomic techniques, such as CRISPR, to better understand how the rich stripes and swirls of a butterfly's wing take their shape

Cellular shuffle

Researchers at the University of Washington and the Allen Institute for Brain Science have developed a new method to classify and track the multitude of cells in a tissue sample

Marilyn Minus: From slime to super fiber

Northeastern Professor Marilyn Minus wants to make the strongest fibers the world has ever known -- at low cost -- for light-weight bullet-proof armor, wide-body jets, sports gear and more.

Heavy nitrogen molecules reveal planetary-scale tug-of-war

Rice University scientist Laurence Yeung, along with scientists at University of California Los Angeles, Michigan State University and the University of New Mexico, counted rare molecules in the atmosphere that contain only heavy isotopes of nitrogen, and discovered a planetary-scale tug-of-war between life, the deep Earth and the upper atmosphere

Building a quantum computer with atomic ions

Two independent teams of scientists, including one from the Joint Quantum Institute, have used more than 50 interacting atomic qubits to mimic magnetic quantum matter, surpassing the complexity of previous demonstrations

Secrets of butterfly wings revealed!

George Washington University evolutionary geneticist Arnaud Martin is using CRISPR Cas9, a gene editing technique, to determine how changes in the "painting gene" WntA result in different wing shapes and patterns in butterflies


A team of three scientists from Kansas State University, Michigan State University and the Desert Botanical Garden are investigating polyploidy (the condition of having more than one set of chromosomes) and diversity in the plant genus Phlox (Polemoniaceae).

NSF Science Now: Episode 51

In this week's episode, we learn about marine mammals' need for speed, magnify a new tool combating mosquito-borne disease, break down new materials inspired by kirigami, and finally, discover new hydrothermal vents. Check it out!

Cell migration

Cells move and migrate to new locations in the bodies of developing animals, an important step for the correct formation and function of organs. The research featured in this video uses a simple genetic model, the fruit fly, to investigate how cells move as organized groups within the animal. This video is part of a series produced by students at Kansas State University.

What's the difference between fermions and bosons?

In particle physics, there are many different types of particles, mostly ending with the phrase "-on." Don Lincoln a senior physicist at Fermilab talks about fermions and bosons and what is the key difference between these two particles.

Putting graphene to the test

Graphene has the potential to improve electronics, solar cells and other devices. University of Nebraska, Lincoln, chemist Alexander Sinitskii is testing this promising nanomaterial with a National Science Foundation CAREER award.

Treating strokes with chemistry

In episode 49, Charlie and Jordan talk about a molecule that can inhibit an enzyme linked with the onset of stroke. The molecule -- developed by research teams at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the National University of Singapore -- reduced the death of brain tissue by as much as sixty-six percent when given to a rat that had recently suffered a stroke.

Large scale graphene production

Draw a line with a pencil and it's likely that somewhere along that black smudge is a material that earned two scientists the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Viral nanostructures for enhanced boiling

Scientists have found a way to harness droves of viruses, found on tobacco plants, as the building blocks for a new super-absorbent coating for use on a variety of materials. These nano-coatings are helping us better understand things like boiling and condensation.

What pennies reveal about randomness

Salvatore Torquato, professor of chemistry at Princeton University, explains his research on the theoretical packing of pennies and how it provides new insights on the nature of randomness.

The sweet science of chocolate

Everybody loves chocolate, but did you know that small daily doses of dark chocolate improve vascular function, reduce pregnancy complications, and lighten gloomy moods? But while it's easy to appreciate, creating this confection is an elaborate feat. Local chocolate-makers explain the precision engineering and chemistry behind the beloved treat.

Heroes made the difference: Peter Agre, M.D.

Peter Agre is a 2003 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. He is also the Director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute and a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Spherical nucleic acids

The floating golden sphere, bristling with corkscrew strands of RNA, drifts majestically toward the jostling lipid bilayer that surrounds a cell

Tyrian purple

Nina Ruelle tells the story of Tyrian Purple, a dye created from the marine snail known as Bolinus brandaris

Chemistry of fear and fright

"Chemistry of Fear and Fright" explains how two hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, work to trigger a cascade of "fight or flight" fear responses when you're confronted by a spider, great height or snake.

How atoms bond: Ionic bonds

This video uses common table salt to explain and illustrate what happens between the electrons and protons in atoms of the element sodium and atoms and the element chlorine to make crystals of sodium chloride.

Chance Discoveries: Polyethylene

This video tells the story of how the world's most used plastic was first formed and developed into the "miracle" material of post-WWII America.

Vicki Grassian: Making sense of atmospheric dust

Vicki Grassian helps scientists better understand the complex and wide ranging behavior of dust particles. Vicki's work paints a clearer picture of atmospheric chemistry and the role particulate matter plays in the environment.

Peter Stang: Building molecules

Peter Stang is the winner of the 2013 American Chemical Society Priestley Medal, the highest honor given by ACS, for his work building new molecules via "self-assembly," an approach inspired by nature.

Peter Wolynes: Untangling Protein Folding

Peter Wolynes, winner of the 2012 ACS Award in Theoretical Chemistry, spent his career untangling the process of protein folding and discovered a process through which these chain molecules tumble into shape. His discovery may help usher in new techniques for personalized medicine and reveal how protein mutations affect the body.

Origami Chemistry: NYU Professor Folds Molecules

21st Century Chemist Kent Kirshenbaum of New York University engineers and folds synthetic peptoids in hopes of creating "hunter-killer" molecules that can target and destroy deadly bacteria like staph (MRSA).

Science of Innovation: Fuel Cell Efficiency

To operate and function efficiently, machines of all shapes and sizes need a source of energy. A series of innovations is helping to make energy conversion within fuel cells as efficient as possible.

Science Of Innovation: Synthetic Diamonds

A new method for creating "synthetic diamonds" that not only creates larger diamonds, but also manipulates their toughness, hardness and color. Potential uses include cutting tools, electronics or optical materials.

Engineering Fire

Fire is one of humankind's first technologies. We have been staring into the proverbial campfire for thousands of years. Yet, surprisingly there seems to be much more to learn. And now it's becoming even more important to our collective future that we know as much as we can about fire.

Science Of Innovation: Smart Concrete

By adding carbon fiber to concrete mixture, a slab of concrete is able to conduct electricity. "Smart concrete" has many potential applications, including helping structural engineers to identify trouble spots in a concrete structure long before stress or cracking is visible to the human eye.

Chemistry Of Ice

"The Chemistry of Ice" explains what happens when liquid H2O freezes into a solid crystal.

The Chemistry Of Snowflakes

This video tracks the formation of snowflakes from their origins in bits of dust in clouds that become droplets of water falling to Earth.

The Secrets Of Nitrogenase

Did you know approximately fifty percent of the nitrogen in our bodies comes from an industrial process called the Haber-Bosch process? How is this possible? And why is it important? And what the heck is nitrogenase? Watch and Learn! And find out more than you ever wanted to know about nitrogen.

Philosophy And Nanoscience

Nanoscience has the power to shape a wide variety of future technologies that will impact modern life. Julia Bursten (University of Pittsburgh) discusses the need for a philosophy of nanoscience. Produced for the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program Video Contest.

Chance Discoveries: Cellophane

A Swiss chemist tries to stain-proof tablecloths by coating them with a viscous cellulose-based liquid, but it peels off in clear sheets when it dries. That new material, when refined, revolutionizes the way food is packaged and sold.

Black Carbon

Soot from black carbon causing health and environmental concerns

New Drugs – From A Cup Of Tea

Chemist works towards the creation of new drugs using peptides that will treat the health problems of millions of people across the globe

A Born Chemist: Isiah Warner

Isiah Warner is a Professor of Chemistry at Louisiana State University. In 2003, he received the Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences from the American Chemical Society.

Chemistry Of Salt (NaCl)

"The Chemistry of Salt" examines the molecular structure of sodium chloride, or NaCl, and explains how this salt crystal can melt ice crystals on sidewalks and roads.

Amazing Catalysts

This episode features Jeffery C. Bricker, Ph.D., whose pioneering work helped produce catalysts that are key ingredients in cleaner detergents and gasoline.

Science Behind The News: Tomato - Decoded

The size, shape, skin thickness, color and taste of tomatoes are all traits determined by their genes. Now, scientists from 14 nations, including the U.S., have sequenced the tomato genome the order and location of the tomato's 35,000 genes.

The Chemistry Of CO2: Carbon Dioxide

The Chemistry of CO2: Carbon Dioxide," uses CO2's molecular structure to explain and illustrate the Octet Rule (Rule of 8); and examines CO2's role in carbonation, the carbon cycle, and the Earth's atmosphere, surface temperature, and ocean acidity.

When Girls Didn't "Do" Science: Mamie Moy

Mamie Wong Moy discusses a time during her education when girls didn't "do" science. She also tells of a science teacher who encouraged her to be curious about the sciences and, ultimately, inspired Mamie to pursue a career in chemistry.

Physics Circus

The National Science Foundation's Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow, Marc "Zeke" Kossover, performs a series of physics feats and explains the science behind them.

Smarter Buildings

USC Architect First to Use Zero-Energy Building Material That Reacts Smartly to Sunlight

Chance Discoveries: Kevlar

As light as nylon yet harder than steel -- "Chance Discoveries: Kevlar" tells the story of lab experiments with aromatic polyamides that produced the synthetic material now common in bicycle helmets, tires, and "bulletproof" police and combat gear (although not in fashion, despite the early designs of one apparel company).

Usable Waste

Researchers at UVM are looking to produce methane more efficiently and in greater quantity

Chemistry Of Changing Leaves

Why do tree leaves turn gold, orange and scarlet in the fall? "Chemistry of Changing Leaves" explains the role of pigment molecules, including chlorophyll, carotenoids, and anthocyanin.

Chemistry of fear and fright

Are you arachnophobic? Acrophobic? Ophidiophobic (afraid of snakes)? "Chemistry of Fear and Fright" explains how two hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, work to trigger a cascade of "fight or flight" fear responses when you're confronted by a spider, great height or snake.


Heterotrophic bacteria playing an important role in the ocean