Recent Submissions

  • Insights into Brevibacillus borstelensis AK1 through Whole Genome Sequencing: A Thermophilic Bacterium Isolated from a Hot Spring in Saudi Arabia

    Khalil, Amjad B.; Neelamegam, Sivakumar; Arslan, Muhammad; Saleem, Hamna; Alqarawi, Sami (Hindawi Limited, 2018-05-24)
    Brevibacillus borstelensis AK1 is a thermophile which grows between the temperatures of 45°C and 70°C. The present study is an extended genome report of B. borstelensis AK1 along with the morphological characterization. The strain is isolated from a hot spring in Saudi Arabia (southeast of the city Gazan). It is observed that the strain AK1 is rod-shaped, motile, and strictly aerobic bacterium. The whole genome sequence resulted in 29 contigs with a total length of 5,155,092 bp. In total, 3,946 protein-coding genes and 139 RNA genes were identified. Comparison with the previously submitted strains of B. borstelensis strains illustrates that strain AK1 has a small genome size but high GC content. The strain possesses putative genes for degradation of a wide range of substrates including polyethylene (plastic) and long-chain hydrocarbons. These genomic features may be useful for future environmental/biotechnological applications.
  • Delivery of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor by 3D Biocompatible Polymeric Scaffolds for Neural Tissue Engineering and Neuronal Regeneration

    Limongi, Tania; Rocchi, A.; Cesca, F.; Tan, H.; Miele, E.; Giugni, Andrea; Orlando, M.; Perrone Donnorso, M.; Perozziello, G.; Benfenati, Fabio; Di Fabrizio, Enzo M. (Springer Nature, 2018-04-04)
    Biopolymers are increasingly employed for neuroscience applications as scaffolds to drive and promote neural regrowth, thanks to their ability to mediate the upload and subsequent release of active molecules and drugs. Synthetic degradable polymers are characterized by different responses ranging from tunable distension or shrinkage to total dissolution, depending on the function they are designed for. In this paper we present a biocompatible microfabricated poly-ε-caprolactone (PCL) scaffold for primary neuron growth and maturation that has been optimized for the in vitro controlled release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). We demonstrate that the designed morphology confers to these devices an enhanced drug delivery capability with respect to monolithic unstructured supports. After incubation with BDNF, micropillared PCL devices progressively release the neurotrophin over 21 days in vitro. Moreover, the bioactivity of released BDNF is confirmed using primary neuronal cultures, where it mediates a consistent activation of BDNF signaling cascades, increased synaptic density, and neuronal survival. These results provide the proof-of-principle on the fabrication process of micropatterned PCL devices, which represent a promising therapeutic option to enhance neuronal regeneration after lesion and for neural tissue engineering and prosthetics.
  • Polyoxadiazole hollow fibers for produced water treatment by direct contact membrane distillation

    Xu, Jingli; Srivatsa Bettahalli, N.M.; Chisca, Stefan; Khalid, Mohammed Khalil; Ghaffour, NorEddine; Vilagines, Régis; Nunes, Suzana Pereira (Elsevier BV, 2018-01-08)
    Treatment of produced water in the petroleum industry has been a challenge worldwide. In this study, we evaluated the use of direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD) for this purpose, removing oil and dissolved elements and supplying clean water from waste. We synthesized fluorinated polyoxadiazole, a highly hydrophobic polymer, to fabricate hollow fiber membranes, which were optimized and tested for simulated produced water and real produced water treatment. The process performance was investigated under different operating parameters, such as feed temperature, feed flow velocity and length of the membrane module for 4 days. The results indicate that by increasing feed temperature and feed flow rate the vapor flux increases. The flux decreased with increasing the length of the module due to the decrease of the driving force along the module. The fouling behavior, which corresponds to flux decline and cleaning efficiency of the membrane, was studied. The performance of the fabricated hollow fiber membranes was demonstrated for the treatment of produced water, complying with the industrial reuse and discharge limits.
  • Unraveling the structure and chemical mechanisms of highly oxygenated intermediates in oxidation of organic compounds

    Wang, Zhandong; Popolan-Vaida, Denisia M.; Chen, Bingjie; Moshammer, Kai; Mohamed, Samah; Wang, Heng; Sioud, Salim; Raji, Misjudeen; Kohse-Höinghaus, Katharina; Hansen, Nils; Dagaut, Philippe; Leone, Stephen R.; Sarathy, Mani (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2017-11-28)
    Decades of research on the autooxidation of organic compounds have provided fundamental and practical insights into these processes; however, the structure of many key autooxidation intermediates and the reactions leading to their formation still remain unclear. This work provides additional experimental evidence that highly oxygenated intermediates with one or more hydroperoxy groups are prevalent in the autooxidation of various oxygenated (e.g., alcohol, aldehyde, keto compounds, ether, and ester) and nonoxygenated (e.g., normal alkane, branched alkane, and cycloalkane) organic compounds. These findings improve our understanding of autooxidation reaction mechanisms that are routinely used to predict fuel ignition and oxidative stability of liquid hydrocarbons, while also providing insights relevant to the formation mechanisms of tropospheric aerosol building blocks. The direct observation of highly oxygenated intermediates for the autooxidation of alkanes at 500–600 K builds upon prior observations made in atmospheric conditions for the autooxidation of terpenes and other unsaturated hydrocarbons; it shows that highly oxygenated intermediates are stable at conditions above room temperature. These results further reveal that highly oxygenated intermediates are not only accessible by chemical activation but also by thermal activation. Theoretical calculations on H-atom migration reactions are presented to rationalize the relationship between the organic compound’s molecular structure (n-alkane, branched alkane, and cycloalkane) and its propensity to produce highly oxygenated intermediates via extensive autooxidation of hydroperoxyalkylperoxy radicals. Finally, detailed chemical kinetic simulations demonstrate the influence of these additional reaction pathways on the ignition of practical fuels.
  • n-Heptane cool flame chemistry: Unraveling intermediate species measured in a stirred reactor and motored engine

    Wang, Zhandong; Chen, Bingjie; Moshammer, Kai; Popolan-Vaida, Denisia M.; Sioud, Salim; Shankar, Vijai; Vuilleumier, David; Tao, Tao; Ruwe, Lena; Bräuer, Eike; Hansen, Nils; Dagaut, Philippe; Kohse-Höinghaus, Katharina; Raji, Misjudeen; Sarathy, Mani (Elsevier BV, 2017-10-03)
    This work identifies classes of cool flame intermediates from n-heptane low-temperature oxidation in a jet-stirred reactor (JSR) and a motored cooperative fuel research (CFR) engine. The sampled species from the JSR oxidation of a mixture of n-heptane/O2/Ar (0.01/0.11/0.88) were analyzed using a synchrotron vacuum ultraviolet radiation photoionization (SVUV-PI) time-of-flight molecular-beam mass spectrometer (MBMS) and an atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) Orbitrap mass spectrometer (OTMS). The OTMS was also used to analyze the sampled species from a CFR engine exhaust. Approximately 70 intermediates were detected by the SVUV-PI-MBMS, and their assigned molecular formulae are in good agreement with those detected by the APCI-OTMS, which has ultra-high mass resolving power and provides an accurate elemental C/H/O composition of the intermediate species. Furthermore, the results show that the species formed during the partial oxidation of n-heptane in the CFR engine are very similar to those produced in an ideal reactor, i.e., a JSR.The products can be classified by species with molecular formulae of C7H14Ox (x = 0–5), C7H12Ox (x = 0–4), C7H10Ox (x = 0–4), CnH2n (n = 2–6), CnH2n−2 (n = 4–6), CnH2n+2O (n = 1–4), CnH2nO (n = 1–6), CnH2n−2O (n = 2–6), CnH2n−4O (n = 4–6), CnH2n+2O2 (n = 0–4, 7), CnH2nO2 (n = 1–6), CnH2n−2O2 (n = 2–6), CnH2n−4O2 (n = 4–6), and CnH2nO3 (n = 3–6). The identified intermediate species include alkenes, dienes, aldehyde/keto compounds, olefinic aldehyde/keto compounds, diones, cyclic ethers, peroxides, acids, and alcohols/ethers. Reaction pathways forming these intermediates are proposed and discussed herein. These experimental results are important in the development of more accurate kinetic models for n-heptane and longer-chain alkanes.
  • Ultralow Self-Doping in 2D Hybrid Perovskite Single Crystals

    Peng, Wei; Yin, Jun; Ho, Kang-Ting; Ouellette, Olivier; de Bastiani, Michele; Banavoth, Murali; El Tall, Omar; Shen, Chao; Miao, Xiaohe; Pan, Jun; Alarousu, Erkki; He, Jr-Hau; Ooi, Boon S.; Mohammed, Omar F.; Sargent, Edward H.; Bakr, Osman (American Chemical Society (ACS), 2017-06-28)
    Unintentional self-doping in semiconductors through shallow defects is detrimental to optoelectronic device performance. It adversely affects junction properties and it introduces electronic noise. This is especially acute for solution-processed semiconductors, including hybrid perovskites, which are usually high in defects due to rapid crystallization. Here, we uncover extremely low self-doping concentrations in single crystals of (C6H5C2H4NH3)2PbI4・(CH3NH3PbI3)n-1 (n=1, 2, and 3)—over three orders of magnitude lower than those of typical three-dimensional hybrid perovskites—by analyzing their conductivity behavior. We propose that crystallization of hybrid perovskites containing large organic cations suppresses defect formation and thus favors a low self-doping level. To exemplify the benefits of this effect, we demonstrate extraordinarily high light-detectivity (1013 Jones) in (C6H5C2H4NH3)2PbI4・(CH3NH3PbI3)n-1 photoconductors due to the reduced electronic noise, which makes them particularly attractive for the detection of weak light signals. Furthermore, the low self-doping concentration reduces the equilibrium charge carrier concentration in (C6H5C2H4NH3)2PbI4・(CH3NH3PbI3)n-1, advantageous in the design of p-i-n heterojunction solar cells by optimizing band alignment and promoting carrier depletion in the intrinsic perovskite layer, thereby enhancing charge extraction.
  • Novel Anoxybacillus flavithermus AK1: A Thermophile Isolated from a Hot Spring in Saudi Arabia

    Khalil, Amjad; Neelamegam, Sivakumar; Arslan, Muhammad; Alqarawi, Sami (Springer Nature, 2017-06-14)
    Anoxybacillus flavithermus AK1 is a thermophilic bacterium that is able to survive at temperatures ranging from 55 to 60∘C. The AK1 strain was isolated from the hot spring “Al-Ain Alhara” located at a distance of 50 km southeast of the city of Gazan, Saudi Arabia. This study presents the morphological characterization of A. flavithermus AK1, including a detailed description of its complete genome sequence. A total of 50 contigs were used to produce a genome sequence of 2,630,664 bp that includes 2724 protein-coding genes and 75 RNA genes, 18 of which are rRNA genes. A comparison of this genome sequence with those of Anoxybacillus flavithermus strains that were previously submitted to NCBI revealed that the AK1 strain has the smallest genome size with the highest GC content. The strain can therefore be exploited for several biotechnological applications based on its high thermophilic potential.
  • Anti-cancer agents in Saudi Arabian herbals revealed by automated high-content imaging

    Hajjar, Dina A.; Kremb, Stephan Georg; Sioud, Salim; Emwas, Abdul-Hamid M.; Voolstra, Christian R.; Ravasi, Timothy (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2017-06-13)
    Natural products have been used for medical applications since ancient times. Commonly, natural products are structurally complex chemical compounds that efficiently interact with their biological targets, making them useful drug candidates in cancer therapy. Here, we used cell-based phenotypic profiling and image-based high-content screening to study the mode of action and potential cellular targets of plants historically used in Saudi Arabia's traditional medicine. We compared the cytological profiles of fractions taken from Juniperus phoenicea (Arar), Anastatica hierochuntica (Kaff Maryam), and Citrullus colocynthis (Hanzal) with a set of reference compounds with established modes of action. Cluster analyses of the cytological profiles of the tested compounds suggested that these plants contain possible topoisomerase inhibitors that could be effective in cancer treatment. Using histone H2AX phosphorylation as a marker for DNA damage, we discovered that some of the compounds induced double-strand DNA breaks. Furthermore, chemical analysis of the active fraction isolated from Juniperus phoenicea revealed possible anti-cancer compounds. Our results demonstrate the usefulness of cell-based phenotypic screening of natural products to reveal their biological activities.
  • In Vitro Assessment of Guanylyl Cyclase Activity of Plant Receptor Kinases

    Raji, Misjudeen; Gehring, Christoph A (Springer New York, 2017-05-31)
    Cyclic nucleotides such as 3′,5′-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and 3′,5′-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) are increasingly recognized as key signaling molecules in plants, and a growing number of plant mononucleotide cyclases, both adenylate cyclases (ACs) and guanylate cyclases (GCs), have been reported. Catalytically active cytosolic GC domains have been shown to be part of many plant receptor kinases and hence directly linked to plant signaling and downstream cellular responses. Here we detail, firstly, methods to identify and express essential functional GC domains of receptor kinases, and secondly, we describe mass spectrometric methods to quantify cGMP generated by recombinant GCs from receptor kinases in vitro.
  • The genome of Chenopodium quinoa

    Jarvis, David Erwin; Ho, Yung Shwen; Lightfoot, Damien; Schmöckel, Sandra M.; Li, Bo; Borm, Theo J. A.; Ohyanagi, Hajime; Mineta, Katsuhiko; Michell, Craig; Saber, Noha; Kharbatia, Najeh M.; Rupper, Ryan R.; Sharp, Aaron R.; Dally, Nadine; Boughton, Berin A.; Woo, Yong; Gao, Ge; Schijlen, Elio G. W. M.; Guo, Xiujie; Momin, Afaque Ahmad Imtiyaz; Negrão, Sónia; Al-Babili, Salim; Gehring, Christoph A; Roessner, Ute; Jung, Christian; Murphy, Kevin; Arold, Stefan T.; Gojobori, Takashi; Linden, C. Gerard van der; Loo, Eibertus N. van; Jellen, Eric N.; Maughan, Peter J.; Tester, Mark A. (Springer Nature, 2017-02-08)
    Chenopodium quinoa (quinoa) is a highly nutritious grain identified as an important crop to improve world food security. Unfortunately, few resources are available to facilitate its genetic improvement. Here we report the assembly of a high-quality, chromosome-scale reference genome sequence for quinoa, which was produced using single-molecule real-time sequencing in combination with optical, chromosome-contact and genetic maps. We also report the sequencing of two diploids from the ancestral gene pools of quinoa, which enables the identification of sub-genomes in quinoa, and reduced-coverage genome sequences for 22 other samples of the allotetraploid goosefoot complex. The genome sequence facilitated the identification of the transcription factor likely to control the production of anti-nutritional triterpenoid saponins found in quinoa seeds, including a mutation that appears to cause alternative splicing and a premature stop codon in sweet quinoa strains. These genomic resources are an important first step towards the genetic improvement of quinoa.
  • Colloidal Gold Nanoclusters Spiked Silica Fillers in Mixed Matrix Coatings: Simultaneous Detection and Inhibition of Healthcare-Associated Infections

    Alsaiari, Shahad K.; Hammami, Mohamed Amen; Croissant, Jonas G.; Omar, Haneen; Neelakanda, Pradeep; Yapici, Tahir; Peinemann, Klaus-Viktor; Khashab, Niveen M. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017-01-25)
    Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are the infections that patients get while receiving medical treatment in a medical facility with bacterial HAIs being the most common. Silver and gold nanoparticles (NPs) have been successfully employed as antibacterial motifs; however, NPs leaching in addition to poor dispersion and overall reproducibility are major hurdles to further product development. In this study, the authors design and fabricate a smart antibacterial mixed-matrix membrane coating comprising colloidal lysozyme-templated gold nanoclusters as nanofillers in poly(ethylene oxide)/poly(butylene terephthalate) amphiphilic polymer matrix. Mesoporous silica nanoparticles-lysozyme functionalized gold nanoclusters disperse homogenously within the polymer matrix with no phase separation and zero NPs leaching. This mixed-matrix coating can successfully sense and inhibit bacterial contamination via a controlled release mechanism that is only triggered by bacteria. The system is coated on a common radiographic dental imaging device (photostimulable phosphor plate) that is prone to oral bacteria contamination. Variation and eventually disappearance of the red fluorescence surface under UV light signals bacterial infection. Kanamycin, an antimicrobial agent, is controllably released to instantly inhibit bacterial growth. Interestingly, the quality of the images obtained with these coated surfaces is the same as uncoated surfaces and thus the safe application of such smart coatings can be expanded to include other medical devices without compromising their utility.
  • Metal–organic frameworks to satisfy gas upgrading demands: fine-tuning the soc-MOF platform for the operative removal of H2S

    Belmabkhout, Youssef; Pillai, Renjith S.; Alezi, Dalal; Shekhah, Osama; Bhatt, Prashant; Chen, Zhijie; Adil, Karim; Vaesen, Sebastien; De Weireld, Guy; Pang, Maolin; Suetin, Mikhail; Cairns, Amy; Solovyeva, Vera; Shkurenko, Aleksander; El Tall, Omar; Maurin, Guillaume; Eddaoudi, Mohamed (Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), 2017-01-06)
    A cooperative experimental/modeling strategy was used to unveil the structure/gas separation performance relationship for a series of isostructural metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) with soc-topology (square-octahedral) hosting different extra-framework counter ions (NO3-, Cl- and Br-). In3+-, Fe3+-, Ga3+-and the newly isolated Al(III)-based isostructural soc-MOF were extensively studied and evaluated for the separation-based production of high-quality fuels (i.e., CH4, C3H8 and n-C4H10) and olefins. The structural/chemical fine-tuning of the soc-MOF platform promoted equilibrium-based selectivity toward C2+ (C2H6, C2H4, C3H6 C3H8 and n-C4H10) and conferred the desired chemical stability toward H2S. The noted dual chemical stability and gas/vapor selectivity, which have rarely been reported for equilibrium-based separation agents, are essential for the production of high-purity H-2, CH4 and C2+ fractions in high yields. Interestingly, the evaluated soc-MOF analogues exhibited high selectivity for C2H4, C3H6 and n-C4H10. In particular, the Fe, Ga and Al analogues presented relatively enhanced C2+/CH4 adsorption selectivities. Notably, the Ga and Al analogues were found to be technically preferable because their structural integrities and separation performances were maintained upon exposure to H2S, indicating that these materials are highly tolerant to H2S. Therefore, the Ga-soc-MOF was further examined for the selective adsorption of H2S in the presence of CO2-and CH4-containing streams, such as refinery-off gases (ROG) and natural gas (NG). Grand canonical Monte Carlo (GCMC) simulations based on a specific force field describing the interactions between the guest molecules and the Ga sites supported and confirmed the considerably higher affinity of the Ga-soc-MOF for C2+ (as exemplified by n-C4H10) than for CH4. The careful selection of an appropriate metal for the trinuclear inorganic molecular building block (MBB), i. e., a Ga metal center, imbues the soc-MOF platform with the requisite hydrolytic stability, H2S stability, and exceptional gas selectivity for ROG and NG upgrading. Finally, the soc-MOF was deployed as a continuous film on a porous support, and its gas permeation properties as a membrane were evaluated.
  • Laboratory injection molder for the fabrication of polymeric porous poly-epsilon-caprolactone scaffolds for preliminary mesenchymal stem cells tissue engineering applications

    Limongi, Tania; Lizzul, Lucia; Giugni, Andrea; Tirinato, Luca; Pagliari, Francesca; Tan, Hua; Das, Gobind; Moretti, Manola; Marini, Monica; Brusatin, Giovanna; Falqui, Andrea; Torre, Bruno; Di Benedetto, Cristiano; Di Fabrizio, Enzo M. (Elsevier BV, 2016-12-16)
    This study presents a simple and rapid fabrication technique involving injection molding and particle leaching (IM/PL) to fabricate the porous scaffold for tissue engineering applications. Sodium chloride (NaCl) and Sucrose are separately mixed with the poly-epsilon-caprolactone (PCL) granules using a screwed thermo regulated extruder, than the biocompatible scaffolds are fabricated through injection molding. The micro/nano structure of the samples and their different grade of porosity were characterized by scanning electron microscopy and mercury intrusion porosimetry. Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells are chose to cell culture and Hoechst 33342 staining was used to verify the biocompatibility of the polymeric porous surfaces. We concluded that, by using the same fast solvent free injection/leaching process, the use of Sucrose as porogen, instead of NaCl, allowed the obtainment of biocompatible scaffolds with a higher grade of porosity with suitable cell adhesion capacity for tissue engineering purpose.
  • Mercury Hazard Assessment for Piscivorous Wildlife in Glacier National Park

    Stafford, Craig P.; Downs, Christopher C.; Langner, Heiko W. (Northwest Scientific Association, 2016-12-14)
    We examined the mercury hazard posed to selected piscivorous wildlife in Glacier National Park (GNP), Montana. Logging Lake was our focal site where we estimated the dietary mercury concentrations of wildlife (common loon [Gavia immer], American mink [Neovison vison], river otter [Lontra canadensis], and belted kingfisher [Megaceryle alcyon]) by assuming that fishes were consumed in proportion to their relative abundances. To evaluate if Logging Lake provided a suitable baseline for our study, we made geographic comparisons of fish mercury levels and investigated the distribution and abundance of high mercury fishes within GNP. We complimented our assessment by examining selenium:mercury molar ratios in fishes from Logging Lake and Saint Mary Lake. Our results suggest fish consumption does not imperil wildlife from Logging Lake based on published thresholds for adverse mercury effects, but some hazard may exist particularly if there is strong feeding selectivity for the most contaminated species, northern pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus oregonensis). The geographic comparisons of fish mercury levels, together with the distribution and abundance of high mercury fishes within GNP, suggest that Logging Lake provided a relatively protective baseline among our study lakes. Risk may be further reduced by the molar excess of selenium relative to mercury, particularly in the smaller fishes typically consumed by GNP wildlife. Our findings contrast with studies from northeastern US and southeastern Canada where greater mercury hazard to wildlife exists. An emergent finding from our research is that waterborne concentrations of methylmercury may provide limited insight into regional differences in fish mercury levels.
  • Hybrid Perovskite Thin-Film Photovoltaics: In Situ Diagnostics and Importance of the Precursor Solvate Phases

    Munir, Rahim; Sheikh, Arif D.; Abdelsamie, Maged; Hu, Hanlin; Yu, Liyang; Zhao, Kui; Kim, Taesoo; El Tall, Omar; Li, Ruipeng; Smilgies, Detlef M.; Amassian, Aram (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016-11-07)
    Solution-processed hybrid perovskite semiconductors attract a great deal of attention, but little is known about their formation process. The one-step spin-coating process of perovskites is investigated in situ, revealing that thin-film formation is mediated by solid-state precursor solvates and their nature. The stability of these intermediate phases directly impacts the quality and reproducibility of thermally converted perovskite films and their photovoltaic performance.
  • A process to enhance the specific surface area and capacitance of hydrothermally reduced graphene oxide

    Alazmi, Amira; El Tall, Omar; Rasul, Shahid; Hedhili, Mohamed N.; Patole, Shashikant P.; Da Costa, Pedro M. F. J. (Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), 2016-08-26)
    The impact of post-synthesis processing in reduced graphene oxide materials for supercapacitor electrodes has been analyzed. A comparative study of vacuum, freeze and critical point drying was carried out for hydrothermally reduced graphene oxide demonstrating that the optimization of the specific surface area and preservation of the porous network are critical to maximize its supercapacitance performance. As described below, using a supercritical fluid as the drying medium, unprecedented values of the specific surface area (364 m2 g−1) and supercapacitance (441 F g−1) for this class of materials have been achieved.
  • Engineering of CH 3 NH 3 PbI 3 Perovskite Crystals by Alloying Large Organic Cations for Enhanced Thermal Stability and Transport Properties

    Peng, Wei; Miao, Xiaohe; Adinolfi, Valerio; Alarousu, Erkki; El Tall, Omar; Emwas, Abdul-Hamid M.; Zhao, Chao; Walters, Grant; Liu, Jiakai; Ouellette, Olivier; Pan, Jun; Banavoth, Murali; Sargent, Edward H.; Mohammed, Omar F.; Bakr, Osman (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016-07-28)
    The number of studies on organic–inorganic hybrid perovskites has soared in recent years. However, the majority of hybrid perovskites under investigation are based on a limited number of organic cations of suitable sizes, such as methylammonium and formamidinium. These small cations easily fit into the perovskite's three-dimensional (3D) lead halide framework to produce semiconductors with excellent charge transport properties. Until now, larger cations, such as ethylammonium, have been found to form 2D crystals with lead halide. Here we show for the first time that ethylammonium can in fact be incorporated coordinately with methylammonium in the lattice of a 3D perovskite thanks to a balance of opposite lattice distortion strains. This inclusion results in higher crystal symmetry, improved material stability, and markedly enhanced charge carrier lifetime. This crystal engineering strategy of balancing opposite lattice distortion effects vastly increases the number of potential choices of organic cations for 3D perovskites, opening up new degrees of freedom to tailor their optoelectronic and environmental properties.
  • Nanoporous amide networks based on tetraphenyladamantane for selective CO2capture

    Zulfiqar, Sonia; Mantione, Daniele; El Tall, Omar; Sarwar, Muhammad Ilyas; Ruipérez, Fernando; Rothenberger, Alexander; Mecerreyes, David (Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), 2016-04-19)
    Reduction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions and CO2 separation from post-combustion flue gases are among the imperative issues in the spotlight at present. Hence, it is highly desirable to develop efficient adsorbents for mitigating climate change with possible energy savings. Here, we report the design of a facile one pot catalyst-free synthetic protocol for the generation of three different nitrogen rich nanoporous amide networks (NANs) based on tetraphenyladamantane. Besides the porous architecture, CO2 capturing potential and high thermal stability, these NANs possess notable CO2/N2 selectivity with reasonable retention while increasing the temperature from 273 K to 298 K. The quantum chemical calculations also suggest that CO2 interacts mainly in the region of polar amide groups (-CONH-) present in NANs and this interaction is much stronger than that with N2 thus leading to better selectivity and affirming them as promising contenders for efficient gas separation. © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2016.
  • Selective Oxidation of Glycerol to Glyceric Acid in Base-Free Aqueous Solution at Room Temperature Catalyzed by Platinum Supported on Carbon Activated with Potassium Hydroxide

    Tan, Hua; El Tall, Omar; Liu, Zhaohui; Wei, Nini; Yapici, Tahir; Zhan, Tong; Hedhili, Mohamed N.; Han, Yu (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016-04-18)
    Pt supported on KOH-activated mesoporous carbon (K-AMC) was used to catalyze glycerol oxidation under base-free conditions at room temperature. To study the relationship between the carbon surface chemistry and the catalytic performance of the K-AMC-based Pt catalysts, different levels of surface oxygen functional groups (SOFGs) on the AMC supports were induced by thermal treatment at different temperatures under inert or H2 gas. A strong effect of the surface chemistry was observed on AMC-supported Pt catalysts for glycerol oxidation. The presence of carboxylic acid groups impedes the adsorption of glycerol, which leads to the reduction of catalytic activity, whereas the presence of high-desorption-temperature SOFGs, such as phenol, ether, and carbonyl/quinone groups, provide hydrophilicity to the carbon surface that improves the adsorption of glycerol molecules on Pt metal surface, which is beneficial for the catalytic activity. © 2016 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
  • An evaluation of microwave-assisted fusion and microwave-assisted acid digestion methods for determining elemental impurities in carbon nanostructures using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry

    Patole, Shashikant P.; Simões, Filipa; Yapici, Tahir; Warsama, Bashir H.; Anjum, Dalaver H.; Da Costa, Pedro M. F. J. (Elsevier BV, 2015-10-21)
    It is common for as-prepared carbon nanotube (CNT) and graphene samples to contain remnants of the transition metals used to catalyze their growth; contamination may also leave other trace elemental impurities in the samples. Although a full quantification of impurities in as-prepared samples of carbon nanostructures is difficult, particularly when trace elements are intercalated or encapsulated within a protective layer of graphitic carbon, reliable information is essential for reasons such as quantifying the adulteration of physico-chemical properties of the materials and for evaluating environmental issues. Here, we introduce a microwave-based fusion method to degrade single- and double-walled CNTs and graphene nanoplatelets into a fusion flux thereby thoroughly leaching all metallic impurities. Subsequent dissolution of the fusion product in diluted hydrochloric and nitric acid allowed us to identify their trace elemental impurities using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry. Comparisons of the results from the proposed microwave-assisted fusion method against those of a more classical microwave-assisted acid digestion approach suggest complementarity between the two that ultimately could lead to a more reliable and less costly determination of trace elemental impurities in carbon nanostructured materials. Graphical abstract A method for the complete digestion of carbon nanostructures has been demonstrated. Photographs (on the left side) show zirconium crucibles containing SWCNTs with flux of Na2CO3 and K2CO3, before and after microwave fusion; (on the right side) the appearance of the final solutions containing dissolved samples, from microwave-assisted fusion and microwave-assisted acid digestion. These solutions were used for determining the trace elemental impurities by ICP‒OES.

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