The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has released a new list of 10 emerging chemical technologies that could have a major impact on the way we live. No wonder this year’s list focuses on the Covid-19 pandemic, but although there are many potentially important emerging chemical technologies in the healthcare sector, topics such as energy efficiency, pollution and change climate are also important.
1. Double ion batteries
As lithium-ion batteries won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2019, a new dawn opens for dual-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries have made it possible to miniaturize energy storage devices, powering laptops, smartphones and electric vehicles. However, they have their downsides. Lithium and cobalt are relatively rare and associated with unsustainable mining. Double-ion batteries may replace them.
Double ion batteries are batteries in which anions and cations participate in energy storage. Double-ion batteries are more environmentally friendly than lithium-ion batteries, as their electrodes can be made from cheap and abundant materials. Researchers are trying to create affordable double-ion batteries using non-toxic organic solvents, such as water, and improve sustainability. Chemists have also found new ways to make these batteries using sodium, potassium or aluminum, resources far more abundant than lithium.
2. Issue induced by the combination
Some molecules release energy in the form of light when they aggregate with other molecules. This is called aggregation-induced emission and is a phenomenon found in luminogens such as polyaromatic compounds and oligosaccharides. Researchers believe that the aggregation-induced emission could find uses in new luminescent materials for OLED devices, sensors and new bioimaging tools.
3. Microbiome and bioactive compounds
Bacteria in the gut can produce a wide range of molecules in response to various stimuli. A recent computational analysis of the microbiome’s genome has uncovered a number of interesting molecules, including potent antibacterial compounds. This discovery serves to show how much there is still to be learned about the microbiome and how these findings could be used in medical research.
4. Liquid Gate Technology
Liquid gate-controlled membranes may seem absurd at first glance, but this technology has already been proven. Liquid-opening membranes can respond to changes in pressure, opening and closing pores on demand without the need for electrical control. Liquid gates can be used to selectively process fluid mixtures without obstructions, so the researchers envision this technology being used in separation and filtration processes, such as water purification.
5. High pressure inorganic chemistry
In the field of high-pressure chemistry, researchers apply intense pressure to a chemical and analyze its response. Under very high pressure, the rules of chemical bonds are altered and effects such as luminescence can be improved.
This field could lead to the discovery of new properties in everyday chemicals, which could lead to the discovery of superconducting materials at room temperature, for example.
6. Macromonomers for better plastic recycling
Getting rid of ocean plastic is a task that chemists are taking on in many ways. One of these is to redesign plastics to create more sustainable materials. Solutions include building plastics that decompose under UV light or incorporating heteroatoms and functional groups into polymeric structures, resulting in polymers that are easier to hydrolyze and recycle.