The Fifth Palestinian International Chemistry Conference

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    Renewable Energy as Only-Choice for Mankind: Solar Energy Research Activities at Najah
    (2011-06-01) Hikmat S. Hilal

    Human need for energy resources is a fact of life. The demand for energy is continuously increasing with time, and is almost reaching a logarithmic relation. Unfortunately, as profitability is masterminding human current practices with energy resources, human being is doing to himself what dinosaurs did to themselves long time ago. Fossil fuels clearly cause global warming through green-house effects. Nuclear energy proves to be a dreadful alternative, as we have plenty to learn from Chernobyl and Fukushima. Bio-fuels, where energy is produced from agricultural products, are at the first glance promising prospect, give no solution. Unfortunately they are proving to be no alternative, as due to profitability interference, they came at the expense of human food. Human being can benefit from energy without hurting future life only by following certain strict strategies. This can be achieved by wise utilization of energy sources and by investing in solar energy resources. To guarantee success, scientific thinking and reason should replace current profitability-based practices. A simple calculation, at least in theory shows that available solar energy resources are 120,000 TW. Less than 0.02% of available resources are sufficient to entirely replace fossil fuels and nuclear power which count to about 24 TW nowadays. To our estimation, if we can utilize incident solar light on one third of Algeria desert, at 10% conversion efficiency, the resulting energy is sufficient to meet current human demands. Quran revelations that Earth has enough resources for human beings are absolutely true ( وقدر فیھا أقواتھا ), if we scientists positively think of these facts. Moreover, solar energy technology needs to be seriously considered as alternative at the global level. Industrialized and developing countries need to work on such areas. Palestine should participate in such technologies for many reasons. Palestine has limited natural resources. Any future development should therefore be based on advanced technology. Such ambitious outlook dictates that Palestine heavily invests in quality teaching and researching in such areas. Materials research is one building block for solar energy technology. The philosophy is simple: we need to develop a technology which intensively demands know-how rather than Plenary resources. In short Palestine should develop a technology based on creativity and invention, starting with advanced materials and their applications in solar energy. Semiconductors (SC) are a very important area of advanced materials. Almost all contemporary technologies rely on SC systems such as p-n junctions (transistors, diodes, PV, PEC, refrigeration, ….). In this plenary, we wish to give one specific example on where Palestinian scientists can target an area of advanced material research and can contribute effectively despite limited resources. Semiconductor research activity has been established in the mid 1990s, and is now housed at SSERL. The activity started with modification of mono-crystalline n-Si and n-GaAs semiconductor surfaces for the purpose of controlling band edge positions. This was for the purpose of tailoring band edge positions to catalyze water splitting (into hydrogen and oxygen) by solar light. The objectives were successfully achieved by graduate students at ANU. To simultaneously achieve stability and efficiency of the SC electrode, other techniques were developed here. Monocrystalline n-GaAs electrodes were enhanced in stability and efficiency using polymeric coatings with electroactroactive ions inside. However, the increasing cost of monocrystalline SC materials affected our objective. Our efforts were then diverted to synthetic thin film SC electrodes. Preparation of enhanced SC materials, in the forms of thin films and nano-scale particles, has then been conducted for the purposes of solar photo-voltaics and for water purification. SSERL researchers have been heavily engaged in preparing and enhancing SC thin films. Nano-thin CdS and CdSe films, deposited onto FTO/glass systems and are currently being used for light-to-electricity conversion processes. Modification of thin films with different techniques shows promising potential in enhancing efficiency and stability. For the first time, ANU researchers were able to stabilize CBD-based CdSe films in PEC processes. Examples of SC research progress at ANU will be highlighted in this presentation. Some technical results and discussions will be presented. This draws inroads for young Palestinian scientists to work on advanced materials while keeping in mind their societal problems. It is also intended to attract the attention of decision makers to put materials R&D as a high priority area in the near future

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    Translating Innovative Science into Medicine for the Treatment of Global Unmet Medical Needs
    (2011-06-01) Mjalli, A

    This presentation will focus on using innovative technology in medicinal chemistry, biology, coupled with genomic data to identify the various genes that are implicated in the cause of human diseases. The translation of gene sequence into a 3D protein structure and potential ligand binding pockets on each proposed 3D structure coupled with verification in biologico using innovative techniques (computational chemistry, biology, biological assays, and medicinal chemistry) will be outlined. The utilization of this technology in validating biological targets, pathways, as well as the discovery of novel optimal drug candidates (potency, selectivity, and other physiochemical properties) will be presented. The use of this technology in the discovery of novel treatments amongst a wide range of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, depression, glaucoma, and cancer will be outlined and discussed in this presentation.

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    X-ray Crystallographic – Interdisciplinary Research
    (2011-06-01) J. Shashidhara Prasad

    X-ray crystallography is the only technique which reveals the structure of materials at atomic level. This is very important for understanding the physical properties, activities of pharmaceutical, superionic, biological materials, biological function, and evolution. The structure helps in tailoring/modification of the materials for any application by getting insight into structure-activity correlation. A large number of crystal and molecular structure studies have been made on drug molecules, superionics, mesogens and small peptides. The power of the technique is illustrated by interesting examples which have been carried out in the national single crystal diffractometer facility.

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    Evolving Catalytic Routes for Carbon Nanotube and Graphene Growth
    (2011-06-01) Mark H. Rümmeli

    Nanomaterials are of enormous fundamental interest, both from the point of view of discovering new physical phenomena as well as for their exploitation in novel devices. It is for these reasons that new nanostructures are being synthesized, functionalized and examined with respect to their special optical and electronic properties. Carbon nanotubes have a broad spectrum of interesting properties, which are relevant for technological applications. They are used for field emission and gas storage and are discussed as basic elements for future electronic devices in nanoscience and technology. Because of their nanometric dimensions and their interesting electronic properties, single walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT), in particular, are considered attractive structures toreplace the semiconductor components essential in integrated circuits. The application of carbon nanotubes for producing transistors or saturable absorbers has been extensively studied; however for such applications isolated semiconducting tubes are needed. Conversely, isolated metallic nanotubes are desirable as nano-conductors. The direct synthesis of SWNT of a particular electronic form, and of a particular chirality is still lacking. Graphene is also a remarkable material with incredible electrical and mechanical properties which was isolated more recently. This has made graphene the “new rising star” in nano-carbon based materials due to its exciting properties at the nanoscale, e.g. high charge carrier mobility. In addition, when existing as narrow strips or ribbons (ca. 10 nm wide) a band gap opens making them excellent candidates for field effect transistors. Hence, apart from the exciting possibilities in discovering new physics from these 2D structures, they offer tantalizing opportunities for the development of high speed (and even flexible) molecular electronics. In order to integrate graphene in to electronics it needs to be fabricated in large areas or in highly defined ways (e.g. nanoribbons), better still, in a manner suited to current complimentary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology. Graphene synthesis routes which are directly compatible with current Si technology are limited. The more popular routes to synthesize carbon nanotubes and graphene are based on the use of catalysts and these are usually metallic catalysts. Despite the success of metal catalysts Plenary they have certain drawbacks; they can be toxic and cause problems in clean room environments. In addition, in the case of nanotubes, they can be quite difficult to remove and in the process of removing them, the nanostructures themselves are often damaged. Over the last few years the use of ceramics, in particular oxide catalyst systems have begun to emerge for carbon nanotube synthesis. These exciting new catalyst systems suggest some contemporary concepts regarding their growth need reevaluating. Moreover, many of the oxides used as catalysts are often implemented as supports in Supported catalytic growth of carbon nanotubes and raise the question as to whether such supports may actually participate in the growth of the carbon nanotubes? Recent studies suggest the oxides can play an active role in the catalytic decomposition of the hydrocarbon feedstock and in the formation of sp2 carbon. This latter point is particularly pertinent to graphene because it suggests the possibility of growing graphene directly on oxide surfaces. The CVD synthesis of grapheme directly on oxides dispenses the need to transfer graphene after synthesis, as is the case with metal catalysts. Early investigations have shown nanographene can be formed directly over oxide surfaces using simple CVD routes. Another emerging route is a catalyst “free” route in which no catalyst material is required. Some argue the carbon structures themselves fulfill the catalytic role.

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    Metal-Organic Frameworks and their Applications to Clean Energy
    (2011-06-01) Omar M. Yaghi

    Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) represent an extensive class of porous crystals in which organic ‘struts’ are linked by metal oxide units to make an open networks. The flexibility with which their building units can be varied and their ultra-high porosity (up to 10,000 m2/g) have led to many applications in gas storage and separations for clean energy production, to mention a few. This lecture will focus on how one can design porosity within MOFs to affect highly selective separations (carbon dioxide), storage (hydrogen and methane) and molecular recognition. The lecture will outline a new concept involving the design of a ‘gene’-like sequences in MOFs that code for specific separations and chemical transformations.