Published: 17.12.10

Year of Chemistry

The UN General Assembly has declared 2011 the “International Year of Chemistry”. Chemistry has contributed a great deal to our welfare both in the past and the present. Chemistry is everywhere and affects so many aspects of our daily lives. It is the key to a deeper understanding of nature as countless chemical reactions take place in the smallest unit of life, the cell. Chemistry also plays a significant role in solving the problems of today, such as energy and environmental issues. Its fruits help shape our future, which is why the slogan of the International Year of Chemistry 2011 is “Chemistry – Our Life, Our Future”. Chemistry is also an important branch of research at ETH Zurich, and its Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences (D-CHAB) is one of the largest at the university. A dossier will thus be dedicated to the Year of Chemistry, summarising all the articles published on the subject in ETH Life over the year.

Related articles:
Roland Riek investigates protein structures, especially protein aggregates. He believes that we will be able to film proteins at atomic resolution in action in the future. Interview: Peter Rüegg, 13.12.11
At one stage, Hansjörg Grützmacher, a professor of inorganic chemistry at ETH Zurich, wanted to become an artist. Now, as a chemist, he sees a certain affinity between the two with which ideas can be realised. Interview: Peter Rüegg, 15.11.11
A research group led by ETH Zurich has now, for the first time, visualized the motion of electrons during a chemical reaction. The new findings in the experiment are of fundamental importance for photochemistry. MM, 13.10.11
Richard Ernst wanted to be a chemist because he hoped it would give him an insight into the basic phenomena of nature. Modern chemistry should, among other things, help solve problems of the energy production and consumption, says the 1991 Nobel-Prize winner. Interview: Peter Rüegg, 12.10.11
Graphite is transformed into diamond in a step by step process, not all at once. This is shown by a new simulation method which, for the first time, precisely simulates the phase transition from graphite to diamond. Simone Ulmer, 19.09.11
Donald Hilvert researches enzyme mechanisms with the goal of engineering protein catalysts to drive reactions faster than those found in Nature. He considers Switzerland to be the most science-literate country in the world. Peter Rüegg, 14.09.11
Professor Jean-Christophe Leroux and his colleagues have developed a method with which they can observe gluten-splitting enzymes in a living organism. This is an important step towards developing effective digestive proteins that can be used against coeliac disease. Peter Rüegg, 15.08.11
Ursula Quitterer, Professor of Molecular Pharmacology, regards the discovery of antibiotics as one of chemistry’s great achievements. She says chemistry needs more creative lateral thinkers to develop new medicines. Interview: Peter Rueegg, 12.08.11
The creative nature of chemistry has always fascinated him the most; Jeroen van Bokhoven considers the determination of the structure of the genetic substance DNA with physical methods to be one of the most important scientific milestones. Peter Rüegg, 20.07.11
Jean-Christophe Leroux is a trained pharmacist. Today, he explores the boundaries between chemistry, biology and pharmaceutics with a view to creating more effective medication with fewer side-effects. Peter Rüegg, 13.04.11
A series of events organised by the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences in the International Year of Chemistry 2011 is intended to illustrate just how important chemistry is for our lives, stresses Antonio Togni, professor of organometallic chemistry at ETH Zurich, in an interview. After all, chemistry's achievements are all too often met with mistrust and even ignorance. Peter Rüegg, 23.12.10
Together with Italian researchers, ETH Zurich Professor Hansjörg Grützmacher and his group have developed a novel organometallic fuel cell. In addition to generating electrical energy, it also produces fine chemicals from renewable raw materials – with no waste. Peter Rüegg, 15.12.10
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