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New uses for imidazolium salts in medicine and alternative energy
Date:12/2/2008

Scientists at Singapore's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have uncovered new properties of imidazolium salts (IMSs), which suggest that they could play a vital role in disease prevention and treatment.

The report on the redox properties of IMSs was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

In a separate study published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, IBN researchers reported the first use of these salts to convert carbohydrates into versatile chemical compounds for biofuel production.

IBN researchers successfully used IMS to develop a new catalyst system for converting sugars into 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), a key compound used in biofuel chemistry and the petroleum industry.

In the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the IBN researchers described how they used IMSs to synthesize successfully uniform gold nanoparticles within seconds at room temperature. The ultrafine (1-2 nm) nanoparticles remained stable for up to 6 months at 4C.

Unlike conventional synthesis techniques using borane or borohydride reduction processes, IBN's method does not require a strong reducing reagent yet is able to produce gold nanoparticles under very mild reaction condition with remarkable efficiency.

IBN's new synthesis protocol could easily be scaled up for industrial applications.

Commonly used as solvents for various organic reactions, IMSs are room-temperature ionic liquids that are chemically stable and have low vapor pressure. While IMSs' physical properties have been widely studied, their biochemical properties and medical applications have seldom been mentioned in the scientific literature.

IBN Principal Research Scientist Yugen Zhang, Ph.D., said, "Our successful use of IMSs as a reducing agent led us to believe that we might also be able to use this compound as a radical scavenger antioxidant to counter the damage caused by re
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Contact: Cathy Yarbrough
sciencematter@yahoo.com
858-243-1814
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
Source:Eurekalert

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