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Figure1. The unusual "trigonal bipyramidal" crystalline structure seen here is being used by researchers at Oregon State University to create a range of new pigments with properties of safety and stability that should have important applications in the paint and pigment industries. (courtesy of Oregon State University)

Chemists at Oregon State University have discovered that the same crystal structure they identified two years ago to create what may be the world’s best blue pigment can also be used with different elements to create other colors, with significant potential in the paint and pigment industries.
First on the list, appropriately, is a brilliant orange pigment – appropriate for the OSU Beavers whose team colors are black and orange, and a university in a “Powered by Orange” advancement campaign.
But the broader potential for these pigments, researchers say, is the ability to tweak essentially the same chemical structure in slightly different ways to create a whole range of new colors in pigments that may be safer to produce, more durable and more environmentally benign than many of those that now exist.
Among the possibilities, they say, are colors that should be of interest to OSU’s athletic rival 40 miles down the road at the University of Oregon – yellow and green.
“The basic crystal structure we’re using for these pigments was known before, but no one had ever considered using it for any commercial purpose, including pigments,” said Mas Subramanian, the Milton Harris Professor of Materials Science in the OSU Department of Chemistry.
“All of these colors should share the same characteristics of being extremely stable, durable, and resistant to heat and acid,” he said. “And they are based on the same crystal structure, so minor adjustments to the technology will produce very different colors and very high quality pigments.”
OSU has already applied for a patent on this technology, samples are now being tested by private industry, and the latest findings were published recently in Inorganic Chemistry, a journal of the American Chemical Society. The research has been supported by the National Science Foundation.
This invention evolved from what was essentially an accidental discovery in 2009 in an OSU lab, where Subramanian was exploring some manganese oxides for interesting electronic properties. At one stage of the process, when a sample had been heated to almost 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the compound turned a vivid blue.
It was found that this chemistry had interesting properties that affects the absorption of light and consequently its color. So Subramanian and his research team, including OSU professor emeritus Art Sleight, quickly shifted their electronics research into what may become a revolution in the paint and pigment industry. Future applications may range from inkjet printers to automobiles or even ordinary house paint.
The work created, at first, a beautiful blue pigment, which had properties that had eluded humans for thousands of years, dating back to the Han dynasty in China, ancient Egyptians and Mayan culture. Most previous blue pigments had various problems with toxicity, durability and vulnerability to heat or acid. Some are carcinogenic, others emit cyanide.
Expanding that research, the scientists further studied this unusual “trigonal-bypyramidal coordination” of crystalline structure, atoms that are combined in a certain five-part coordinated network. The initial blue color in the pigment came from the manganese used in the compound. The scientists have now discovered that the same structure will produce other colors simply by substituting different elements.
“The new orange pigment is based on iron, and we might use copper and titanium for a green pigment,” Subramanian said. “Yellow and deep brown should be possible, and we should be able to make a new red pigment. A lot of red pigments are now made with cadmium and mercury, which can be toxic.
“These should all be very attractive for commercial use,” he said.


Sahraoui Chaieb, University of Illinois

Sahraoui Chaieb, University of Illinois

A University of Illinois scientist studying how membranes wrinkle has discovered a novel system for on-demand drug delivery.
Sahraoui Chaieb, a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, has created temperature-sensitive capsules that can release drugs on demand. The capsules, which can range in size from 10 to 100 microns, can be tuned to deliver drugs at different rates. Chaieb reports his findings in the Feb. 17 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.
To make the capsules, Chaieb begins by confining a drug inside lipid bilayer membranes. Some of the lipids are then "sewn together" through a polymerization process. Cooling the capsules by 10 degrees Celsius causes the capsules to crumple and collapse like deflated beach balls, releasing the drug.
"The release rate can be controlled by the amount of wrinkling that occurs," said Chaieb, who also is a professor of bioengineering and a researcher at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. "And the amount of wrinkling is dependent upon the degree of membrane polymerization that took place."
One problem that remains is how to cool the capsules without harming the surrounding tissue. The solution, Chaieb said, might lie in newly discovered nanoparticles that can be chilled through magnetic cooling.
Chaieb and colleagues at Illinois are exploring ways to coat the capsules with the nanoparticles. When exposed to a magnetic field, the nanoparticles would cool down and remove heat from the capsules. The capsules would then wrinkle and release the drug.


Like the colorful temporary tattoos that children stick to their arms for fun, people may one day put thin “electronic skin” patches onto their arms to wirelessly diagnose health problems or deliver treatments. A scientist reported on the development of “electronic skin” that paves the way for such innovations today at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society.
John Rogers, Ph.D., said the patches have the potential to eliminate the need for patients to stay tethered to large machines in a doctor’s office or hospital room for hours of treatment or monitoring. Each year, hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide have electroencephalograms, electrocardiograms and electromyograms to check the health of their brains, hearts or muscles.
The procedures are uncomfortable, Rogers explained, with patients hooked to machines by cumbersome wires or pins adhering to the skin with gels or tape that can be painful to remove and can leave a sticky residue. More importantly, the tests detect brain, heart and muscle activity while patients are in a medical setting, rather than carrying out activities of everyday life.
“A key feature of our epidermal electronics is its natural interface to the body, without wires, pins, adhesives or gels, to allow a much more comfortable and functional system,” said Rogers. “The technology can be used to monitor brain, heart or muscle activity in a completely noninvasive way, while a patient is at home.”
The electronic skin patches are about the thickness of a human hair, and wearers can’t feel them on their skin. They could even be covered up with a real temporary tattoo. Despite their miniscule dimensions, the patches can pack full-scale electronic circuits needed to monitor health status with wireless capabilities that can, with future development, be used to transmit data to the patient’s cell phone and on to the doctor’s office.
Rogers and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign developed the patches to not only be flexible, but stretchable to move with the natural motions of the skin as people go about their normal business. This was a big challenge, however. Silicon-based wafers are typically used for electronics, such as laptops and smartphones. But these wafers are hard and brittle, like glass. To get these onto a material that bends and stretches like skin or rubber, they had to use very small pieces in a wavy pattern. “We had to structure the system in a strategic way that would avoid any strains or stresses that would crack or fracture these tiny bits of silicon,” Rogers explained.
The patches are transferred to the skin just like a temporary tattoo, with water and a backing that peels off. The first versions wore off after a day or sooner if they got wet. The latest version is applied in the same way, but a modified form of the spray-on bandages sold in drugstores is applied over the patch. The spray protects the circuit from water and normal wear-and-tear and keeps it on the skin for up to a week. In this format, the devices can accommodate transpiration, sweat and even washing with soapy water.
“We’ve also figured out how to make the devices operate in a bi-directional way,” Rogers explained. “The older devices only measure what’s going on in the body. Our newest patch can measure muscle activity and stimulate the muscles. That’s useful for rehabilitation after an accident or long periods of bed rest or even for helping people move prosthetic limbs more easily.” And with plans to add Wi-Fi capabilities, electronic skin could also send information back to a physician.
A company Rogers co-founded called mc10 is going a step further and putting the patches on medical instruments that go inside the body, such as catheters, which are balloon-like tubes used in heart surgery. The electronic skin patch is placed on the outside surface of the catheter. When the catheter expands in the heart, the patch expands with it and touches the inside of the heart, taking measurements used to guide surgery.
Rogers said the patches also could have applications in other areas useful for the consumer. For example, new devices allow monitoring and depth-profiling of skin hydration, with relevance in sports, skin-care and cosmetics, alike.


Detergents are everywhere – in washing powders, dishwashing liquids, household cleaners, skin creams, shower gels, and shampoos. It is the detergent that loosens dirt and fat, makes hair-washing products foam up and allows creams to be absorbed quickly. Up until now, most detergents are manufactured from crude oil – a fossil fuel of which there is only a limited supply. In their search for alternatives, producers are turning increasingly to detergents made from sustainable resources, albeit that these surfactants are usually chemically produced. The problem is that the substances produced via such chemical processes are only suitable for a small number of applications, since they display only limited structural diversity – which is to say that their molecular structure is not very complex. Now researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB are taking a different approach: they are manufacturing surfactants using biotechnological methods, with the assistance of fungi and bacteria. "We produce biosurfactants microbially, based on sustainable resources such as sugar and plant oil," says Suzanne Zibek, a technical biologist and engineer at the IGB in Stuttgart. The scientist and her team use cellobiose lipids (CL) and mannosylerythritol lipids (MEL) because testing has shown these to be promising for industrial application. They are produced in large quantities by certain types of smut fungus, of the kind that can affect corn plants. What is more, CL also has antibacterial properties.
What marks biological surfactants out from their synthetic competitors is their increased structural diversity. In addition, they are biodegradable, are less toxic and are just as good at loosening fats. But despite all this, to date they are used in only a few household products and cosmetics. The reason is that they are costly and difficult to produce, with low yields. One substance that has been successfully brought to market is the sophorose lipid made by Candida bombicola, which is used by a number of manufacturers as an additive in household cleaning products. This biosurfactant is produced by a yeast that is harvested from bumble-bee nectar.
"If we want natural surfactants to conquer the mass market, we need to increase fermentation yields," says Zibek. To this end, the scientists are optimizing the production process in order to bring down manufacturing costs. They cultivate the microorganisms in a bioreactor, where they grow in a continuously stirred culture medium containing sugar, oil, vitamins and minerals salts. The goal is to achieve high concentrations in as short a time as possible, so they need to encourage as many microorganisms as possible to grow. There are numerous factors with a bearing on the outcome, including the oxygen supply, the pH value, the condition of the cells, and the temperature. The composition of the culture medium itself is also crucial. It is not just a question of how much sugar and oil go into the mix, but also the speed at which they are added. "We have already achieved concentrations of 16 grams per liter for CL and as high as 100 grams per liter for MEL – with a high production rate, too," the group manager is happy to report.
The next step is to separate the biosurfactants from the fermentation medium and to characterize them with the help of industrial partners, determining which surfactants are suitable for use in dishwashing liquids, which are more suited to oven cleaning products, and which are ideal for use in cosmetics. The substances can finally be modified or improved at the enzymatic level. "For instance, we managed to increase wa-ter solubility. After all, the biosurfactant shouldn't form an oily film over the surface of the dishwashing liquid," explains Zibek. The experts have even managed to produce biological surfactants using waste products, by obtaining the sugar needed for the culture medium from straw.

Bayer MaterialScience presents sprays, hair gels and styling cremes based on Baycusan® C 1008. New test results document how well these film-forming polymers shape hair and provide long-lasting hold. The company explains that formulations with various VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) contents, all using dimethyl ether as the propellant, were developed for sprays containing Baycusan® C 1008. It was important to the Bayer experts that the formulations could be sprayed easily and evenly. The polymer was also used in waterborne styling formulations, such as hair gels and styling cremes. The film-forming polymers outperformed conventional styling polymers in high humidity curl retention even after 24 hours.

Jungbunzlauer provides a versatile portfolio for personal care applications. Citric acid and sodium citrate is a winning combination for pH adjustment and a buffering system. Their citrate ester CITROFOL® AI has excellent softening properties and a unique performance in skin friendly deodorant systems. The anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effect of zinc citrate makes it to an omnipresent ingredient in oral care products. Xanthan gum features outstanding properties for the stabilization of suspensions, emulsions and foams. Moreover, Jungbunzlauer provides four different solutions for smooth moisturising: ERYLITE® (erythritol), glucono-delta-lactone, sodium gluconate and sodium L(+)-lactate. Jungbunzlauer offers gmo-free and ECOCERT approved ingredients.

TEGO® Airex 922 is the next highlight of the new generation of deaerators and defoamers from Evonik. This silicone-free product is the most efficient deaerator for epoxy floor coatings. As the company refers, it is free of organic solvents to meet the high requirements of indoor coatings. Moreover the company explains that the good compatibility of this silicone-free product prevents lubricating films, resulting in excellent re-coatability and makes TEGO® Airex 922 suitable even for clear coats with highest demands on optical appearance.

Rousselot presents Peptan® SR marine a specific collagen peptide which promotes 3 step Skin Regeneration. Several in vitro tests have shown the product boosts fibroblast proliferation, promotes the synthesis of collagen, and also has an antioxidant effect. Peptan® SR Marine is an ingredient of proven efficacy which helps fight skin aging and enhances skin beauty, as the company refers. They add that colourless, odourless and cold soluble, Peptan® collagen peptides can be easily incorporated into any type of cosmetic formulation, including unscented applications.

Collagen is important for skin anti-aging and its effectiveness relies on four aspects: collagen functionality and its protection against glycation, oxidation, and collagenase. BASF Beauty Care Solutions’ recent CollGuard™ ingredient, an extract from Davilla rugosa leaves, protects the skin’s collagen and may therefore be of help in keeping the skin firm as well as maintaining epidermis structure. In vitro studies performed on CollGuard™ showed the ingredient’s anti- glycation activity, helping to preserve the structure and functionality of collagen fibres. In addition, CollGuard™ exhibited good protection against free radical attacks and significant protection against collagenase at a 2 percent concentration level, as the company refers. Moreover, it helps to stimulate the synthesis of functional collagen, by demonstrating an ability to increase the amount of functional type 1 collagen by a factor of three. Finally, the efficacy test results highlighted CollGuard™’s ability to preserve newly synthesized collagen and support the structure of the fibrillar network.

To satisfy consumers’ desire for styling products with increased sustainability along with high performance, the Global Personal Care business of AkzoNobel Surface Chemistry has introduced STRUCTURE® STYLE polymer, a naturally derived, starch-based polymer that provides multiple styling benefits along with the potential for significant formulation cost savings. The company explains that STRUCTURE® STYLE polymer features effective rheology modification and film-forming capabilities to provide both excellent thickening and long-lasting hold. STRUCTURE® STYLE polymer can be used alone or in conjunction with traditional rheology control polymers to help create styling products that are high-performing, aesthetically pleasing and economical. The STRUCTURE® STYLE polymer is a naturally derived, non-GMO, modified potato starch which offers unique textural attributes and high clarity compared with traditional starches.

The Lubrizol Corporation's personal and home care business introduces FixateTM Design polymer for ultimate formulation flexibility for clean, lustrous, long-lasting volume and hold in hair styling applications. The versatility of Fixate Design polymer provides formulators with creative options and degrees of freedom while maintaining superior performance in mousses, curling creams and sprays and a wide variety of other hair styling applications. Fixate Design polymer is an anionic, multi-functional film-forming polymer that delivers excellent superior performance in hair styling applications and offers excellent formulation flexibility, as the company underlines. Fixate Design polymer delivers high humidity resistance, tailored hold, exceptional shine, little to no flaking, enhanced volume and distinctive sensory.

Dry skin continues to be a leading skin problem for consumers, as many technologies provide cosmetic benefits without addressing the underlying causes of the condition. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology recently published the results of two randomized, controlled studies evaluating the stratum corneum integrity and skin hydration benefits of a variety of moisturizers containing various levels of oils/lipids (e.g., petrolatum and mineral oil), humectants (e.g., glycerin), as well as other ingredients (e.g., niacinamide). These studies found the two body moisturizers containing a niacinamide/glycerin formula, Olay®Advanced Healing Lotion and Olay Ultra Moisture Lotion, had significant advantages versus a number of competitive moisturizers in two key areas: improving skin barrier over time and rapidly hydrating skin.

Expanscience, which operates in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic sector, has become an official member of the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT), thus reaffirming its commitment to protecting biodiversity. In December 2011, the company became the first French pharmaceutical laboratory to obtain this recognition. To be eligible to join UEBT, Laboratoires Expanscience were audited by an independent firm. Nine key indicators were examined, including respect for biodiversity, human rights and traditional expertise, as well as compliance with ethical practices in business and fair distribution of revenues throughout the supply chain. For example, Expanscience has already completed around 10 fair-return initiatives in Burkina Faso in a partnership formed three years ago with a women’s consortium, Union des Femmes Artisanes, Ben Nafa Kabo in Gassan (UAB/G). In addition to providing advances on crops, Expanscience provided the cooperative with a microloan in 2010 that was used to acquire a plot of land and constructa storage facility for organic crops as well as an office. The office building was 75 percent financed through a donation from Expanscience and 25 percent with a second microloan.

Schülke & Mayr GmbH has opened a new information portal on the subject of microbial stabilisation of wet wipes. The general topic “Preservation” includes information about preservatives for cosmetics, antimicrobial multifunctional additives, and technical biocides. The user friendly “Knowledge” section will give answers to many of the frequently asked questions about wet-wipe preservation. This new technical tool also contains more general information about topics such as boosting of preservatives, preservative free concepts, microbiological quality management (MQM), and microbiological safety testing. It will also cover supplementary information on “Production Hygiene and Monitoring” such as the use of dip slides, system cleaners and disinfectants for production hygiene.