Short news science


Ozone hole
Above the North Pole, unprecedented ozone destruction has occurred in early 2011. A team of researchers, including those from TU Delft and KNMI, has published their findings in Nature (29 September).

Although ozone destruction takes place over both poles at the end of the winter, the process is more severe over the South Pole and more variable over the North Pole. Researchers blame the depletion on the unusually long-lasting cold conditions above the North Pole.

Hydrogen storage
Hydrogen may be stored without the need for high pressures in magnesium nanoparticles. Researchers from a group headed by Professor Bernard Dam (Applied Sciences), together with their colleagues from the Free University Amsterdam, published their findings in the October issue of Advanced Energy Materials. It was known that magnesium can absorb large quantities of hydrogen, but the disadvantage was always the slow release. This made the material unsuitable for on-board hydrogen storage. Dam and colleagues have now shown that magnesium nanoparticles, measuring about 10 nanometers, release the hydrogen quicker. The magnesium particles must however be fixed in a suitable material (matrix) to prevent them from clotting together. “We have done tests in thin films and have shown the potential for magnesium. But the right matrix still needs to be found,” Dam comments.

’Interface Energy Controlled Thermodynamics of Nanoscale Metal Hydrides’, Advanced Energy Materials, p.754-758.

Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2011 goes to Daniel Shechtman of Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, for his discovery of quasicrystals in 1982, which has changed the way chemists conceive solid matter. Previously, chemists interpreted regularity in crystals as a periodic and repeating pattern. In Shechtman’s quasicrystals however atoms form regular patterns that never repeat themselves but do follow mathematical rules. Shechtman’s discovery was extremely controversial. In the course of defending his findings, he was asked to leave his research group. 

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