Thursday, 8 July 2021

Ruđer Bošković Institute Scientists: New Findings Regarding Isomers in Stereochemistry

July 8, 2021 - Ruđer Bošković Institute scientists made progress in stereochemistry that focuses on describing the order of atoms in three-dimensional space and compounds of equal molecular formulas.

While Ivo Andrić's Nobel Prize in literature is debatable whether it serves the national pride of Croatia, Serbia, or Bosnia and Herzegovina, the two Nobel prizes that are unquestionably for Croatians to brag about come from chemistry.

Croatian chemist Vladimir Prelog won the Nobel Prize in 1975 for his work in organic stereochemistry.

As the Ruđer Bošković Institute reported this week, Ph.D. candidate Natalija Pantalon Juraj and dr. Srećko Kirin provided new descriptions of isomers (focused on metal complexes), and their work is published in a prestigious Coordination Chemistry Reviews [IF2020: 22.3] journal, titled „Inorganic stereochemistry: Geometric isomerism in bis-tridentate ligand complexes“.

„The basis of the research was the analysis of structure from crystallographic database“, added IRB.

IRB explained in a press release that stereochemistry is focused on describing the order of atoms in three-dimensional space and compounds of equal molecular formulas, but that differ in the spatial order of atom placements are called isomers.

Prelog took an interest in organic stereochemistry (organic, being interested in compounds with carbon), and while organic stereochemistry has good ways of synthesizing the preferred isomers, the same isn't the case for inorganic (non-carbon compounds) chemistry.

While it is unclear if this work will be awarded and recognized among the international scientific community as much as Prelog's contribution, Pantalon Juraj and Kirin made some progress in advancing inorganic stereochemistry.

„Analysis of data presented in this paper shows trends in coordination properties of various ligands (ligand being an ion or molecule 'functional group' that binds to a central atom to form a coordination complex), thus answering the question of which ligand to choose and design a system to get a wanted isomer“, says IRB regarding the relevance of the research.

The detailed analysis also revealed stereochemical preferences that vary on various factors, and these findings are important for developing new functional coordinating complexes and also new selective catalizators to speed up the reactions.

This research was funded thanks to the Croatian Science Foundation as part of the project „Minimal Artificial Ensims“ (IP-2014-09-1461 and DOK-2015-10-2072), and "CAT Pharma" (KK.01.1.1.04.0013).

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

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Thursday, 24 June 2021

Professor Slavko Krajcar Death: A Look at the Life of Fantastic FER Professor

June 24, 2021 - Following the professor Slavko Krajcar Death on June 18, take a look at the life of an established educator and scientist whose expertise made a significant contribution to Croatian politics in the energy sector.

„The influence of a teacher can never be erased“, or as an American historian Henry Brook Adams put it, „Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops“- these two are just some of the inspirational quotes about teachers you can find with a little assistance from Google.

Students at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER) at the University of Zagreb are recognized in Croatia for their innovations. At the end of the day, they owe their excellence to the professors that educated them.

One of such professors was Dr. Slavko Krajcar that sadly, as FER official website reported, passed away on June 18, last week.

"Professor, Dr. Slavko Kranjcar made a significant contribution to the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing as he was a dean of the Faculty from 1998-2002, after which he was the head of the department for high voltage and energetics from 2002-2006. He will remain in permanent memory as a respected scientist, expert, and a colleague“, said FER in an official release.

Kranjcar was also the member and the president of the Managing council at Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) that also expressed its condolences.

Born on January 14, 1951, Slavko Krajcar enrolled to study in FER in 1969, followed by graduating from Technical High School in Pula. He majored in FER in 1980 and got his Ph.D. in 1988. His scientific and lecture career started in 1974 when he was an assistant on a manufacturing electric energy course. From there on, he mentored various students on different levels, ten of which earned Ph.D. statuses under his guidance.

Kranjcar was active in the media, giving interviews and writing op-pieces on education issues, specifically the education of engineers in the 21st century.

„Krajcar participated on many domestic projects regarding science or economy as well on international scientific and professional projects. Counting just after the year 2000, he participated in over fifty projects, 36 of which he led. He was one of the leading figures in making Croatian Energetic Strategy (which the parliament accepted in 2010) and the Energetic Efficiency Strategy (2008) as well as executive plans on new strategies (2008-2020)“, recalled FER.

They added Fer rewarded Krajcar in 2002 when he received Josip Lončar's golden plaque for his dedicated scientific and educational work. He also received special recognition for developing SRCE- The Computer Centre of the University of Zagreb in 2011, followed by the Ho CIRED award for contribution in developing the field of electro distribution in Croatia. He also received HRO CIGRE recognition in 2018 for the overall contribution to the electro energetic activities in the Republic of Croatia and the Nikola Tesla Award in 2020 for the contribution to science, education, and profession in the field of electrical engineering and computer sciences and application of those technologies.

Believe it or not, Krajcar even made time to contribute to art and culture as well. He published two books of poetry, edited four books regarding cultural issues, and was the president of the Association for Čakavski dialect (distinct for the use of Ča as a word for what and conversated on coastal Croatia).

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

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Thursday, 10 June 2021

Ruđer Bošković Institute Chemist Team Makes Progress in Life Formation Research

June 10, 2021 -  Do you ever wonder how life was formed? Always dedicated to scientific progress, the Ruđer Bošković Institute chemist team made progress in life formation research supporting the theory that the first molecules needed to develop life were formed on the surfaces of minerals in pre-historic times.

Science explores our present reality, but also the past. With many knowledge or credible theories on evolution, the very basic questions such as „how life came to form“, remain unclear. But why?

„Given that condensation (the process of water vapor turning back into liquid) of free amino acids is thermodynamically unfavoruable process in the water medium, it is a great mystery how it came to the formation of peptides before life on earth“, states the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) press release.

It's worth noting that the thermodynamically unfavourabale process means the process is irreversible, which means it can't be reconstructed, and that's why scientists can see the formation of peptides, chains that connect amino acids that are crucial for life.

So, meet prebiotic chemistry – a study of chemistry dedicated to address and discover how organic compounds formed and self-organized for the origin of life, but so far without consensus.

But, progress is made once again thanks to the always active IRB. IRB's chemist team (José G. Hernández, dr Krunoslav Užarević, and Ph.D. student Tomislav Stolar,), in collaboration with colleagues from the pharmaceutical company Xellia (dr. sc. Ernest Meštrović, mag. chem. Saša Grubešić and dr. Nikolaom Cindro from the chemical department at the Faculty of Science (PMF), University of Zagreb), showed that with mechanochemical activation in a solid-state, the amino acids (organic compounds that combine to form proteins, with both being considered „the building blocks of life“) - such as glycine or alanine form peptides on mineral surfaces.

This supports the theory that life molecules could've been formed on Earth's mineral surfaces. The paper titled „Mechanochemical Prebiotic Peptide Bond Formation“, published in the prestigious Angewandte Chemie scientific journal published on behalf of the German Chemical Society presents these findings in greater detail.

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Stolar, Užarević and Hernandez © Ruđer Bošković Institute

„In this research, we showed that mechanochemical activation of free glycin ground with ball mill allows the new oligomers (molecules made of few similar or identical repeating units) by adding minerals that are basic components of earth surface and meteorites. With the identification of organic and inorganic molecules present in the Solar system, it's important in laboratory conditions to develop suitable processes that would explain the presence of these molecules. Such fundamental knowledge can then be applied in modern synthetical chemistry“, said a member of the IRB chemist team Tomislav Stolar. Stolar also participated in developing a new material known as CuZn-MOF-74 on which TCN previously wrote about.

The research was financed by the  Croatian Science Foundation (HRZZ), and the next step is to apply this knowledge to synthesize new chemicals, which was one of the purposes of the research described by HRZZ.

IRB adds that the fact that various geological processes change the earth's surface, there is no historic evidence that could definitely answer how life on Earth was formed. It is believed that the first simple molecules triggered complex molecules to form in a process called chemical evolution and from that, life further continued to develop. Liquids, solid surfaces, or the phases between the two could've been potential conditions for these reactions, and mechanical energy sources were most likely found in meteor strikes, erosion, earthquakes, and more while thermal energy was most likely supplied by geothermal sources.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

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Thursday, 3 June 2021

Coastal Hazard Monitoring: New Method Developed by Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) Scientist-Led Team

June 3, 2021 - With climate change bringing trouble to the coast, coastal hazard monitoring is a must. Meet the new method developed by a research team led by a scientist from Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB).

Individuals from the scientific Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) in Zagreb continue to catch the attention of internationally established scientific journals, such as Marine Science ranked in the top 10% of magazines for the issues of sea and water biology.

This time, IRB's dr. Cléa Denamiel led an international research team that presented an innovative concept of warning on coastal hazards with stochastic methods.
Authors at Standford.edu in a pdf presentation are presenting stochastic methods as methods that involve random variables. They gave an example of multiple arrows flying towards a rock from multiple directions. When they hit the rock, arrows are positioned randomly.

„Nevertheless, you can still use their positions to estimate the location of the target“, explained Standford.edu presentation.

So, the presentation further elaborated that „like using randomly-positioned arrows to estimate the position of a target, stochastic methods have the goal of gaining information out of randomness“.

„To put it simply, current systems of warning are based on numerical methods that require advanced informatical resources, living a huge carbon dioxide print on the environment, while with the suggested appliance of stochastic methods to optimize forecast of coastal hazards and greatly reduce the need for informatics resources while taking elements of coincidence into account“, explained IRB in its official press release.

This is very important as coastal areas are under the increasing influence of climate hazards, particularly sea-level rise. IRB states that its predicted hazards related to sea level directly impact around 630 million people around the world by 2100.

The new method of warning and quantifying data on coastal hazards presented by dr. Denamiel and her team is innovative as all current systems for such monitoring are much more complexed as they are based on numerical models from kilometer to the meter of clearance.“The suggested approach would require fewer resources while keeping or even improving forecasts and assessments of coastal hazards“, concluded, dr. Ivica Vilibić from IRB.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

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Friday, 28 May 2021

Ionic Liquids With Solid State Nanopores: New Valuable Progress From Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB)

May 28, 2021 - A recently published study on ionic liquids with solid state nanopores at the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) can help the energy storage sector.

The top scientific and research institution in Croatia, the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB), continues to be the home of interesting scientific progress.

Researchers from the IRB's computer bioscience team, Nataša Vučemilović-Alagić, and dr. Mario Špadina under the mentorship of dr. Ana Sunčana Smith cleared the phenomenon of transport inside liquids on the principle of nanopores in the solid-state. A nanopore is a small cavity in solid matter, invisible to the naked eye. This IRB research was done in collaboration with dr. Sanjin Marion and dr. Aleksandra Rađenović from École Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland and the research results are published in the prestigious scientific journal Small which specializes in nanotechnology.

Professor Ana Sunčana Smith's IRB team deals with molecular descriptions of chemical and physical interactions of ionic liquids (liquids that are not neutral but have either positive or negative electric charge) on various solid surfaces. The goal was to determine the impact of specific ions and specific surfaces. The appliance of this knowledge is in line with guidelines of the EU Green Deal, and the UN sustainable development goals", explained IRB in the official press release.

The press release added this knowledge is useful in storing energy, as ionic liquids in nanopores represent an alternative to batteries.

„In this research, starting from the principle of water solutions, we combine ionic fluids and nanopores of different geometric features and materials to secure new nanofluid functionalities. This solves some of the relevant issues in the understanding of basic principles of transports in space-limited ionic liquids and ensuring better control of the speed of translocating within an analyte“, explained Dr. Ana Sunčana Smith.

It's worth noting that dr. Sunčana Smith is one of the Croatian scientists that received support from the Croatian European Research Council (ERC) for a very prestigious project in researching biological membranes worth 1,5 million euros.

Energy efficiency is something IRB shows to be really dedicated to, as evident by the progress IRB researchers made in exploring materials for converting CO2 to methanol alcohol, and IRB's Rovinj Sea Research Centre that celebrated 130 years of existence this year priorities maritime ecology and its protection in its research.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Rovinj Sea Research Centre Celebrating 130 Years of Work

May 18, 2021 - The Rovinj Sea Research Centre turns 130 in 2021. It is the place in Croatia for oceanographic research and all things science related to the preservation of the sea and maritime life.

Established back in 1891 as Berlin's Aquarium Zoological Station, the research Institute is known today as the Rovinj Sea Research Centre (CIM), and last week it celebrated 130 years of work. An affiliate of the Ruđer Bošković Science Institute (IRB), that institute recently reported that CIM currently has 54 employees working in four laboratories, and the centre is heavily involved in numerous impressive scientific projects.

''This includes five projects of the Croatian Science Foundation (HrZZ), worth 5,855 635 HRK, three projects financed within the INTERREG cross border programme (worth 1,326 000 euros), three projects with European structural and investment funds (7,189 531 HRK), and two projects financed within the EU programme for research and innovations, OBZOR 2020, valued at 179,360 euros,“ says the IRB official website.

The section of the IRB page dedicated to CIM adds that the centre offers a multidisciplinary take on the research of the sea, offering both basic and applicable oceanographic research. This includes six areas of interest: processes and dynamics in the food chain, examining the dynamics of water masses, ecology (species and the interrelations of species in both clean and in polluted waters), sea organism research (ecological, physiological, and genetic features of organisms, and a pollution effects study), the monitoring of pollution and sea quality, and finally, the monitoring of eutrophication (a process in which the environment becomes enriched with nutrients which can trigger the development of algae and cause an imbalance in the ecosystem).

Set in the beautiful town of Rovinj on the Istrian peninsula because of the clear waters of the Adriatic sea, CIM is on a mission to preserve marine life and its biodiversity.

CIM truly has a rich tradition, having conducted international systematic research and monitoring of the marine ecosystem of the Northern Adriatic for over 30 years. ''This approach became a model for the regional organisation of the European systematic monitoring of the coastal sea,'' says IRB.

IRB adds that in this long tradition, the Croatian science programme of monitoring the Northern Adriatic played a huge role. Having begun fifty years ago, it developed into the Jadran Project, making Croatia one of the first countries in all of Europe to have developed a systematic approach to the monitoring of the sea.

''Additional confirmation of the tradition and scientific quality of CIM can also be seen in the recent joining of CIM to JERICO – the Joint European Research Infrastructure network for Coastal Observatory, making CIM a partner of some of the most famous European Institutes“, concluded the IRB's explanation.

Learn more about Beaches in Croatia on our TC page.

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Friday, 14 May 2021

Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) Open Doors in 2021: Virtual Event To Present Science to Public in May

May 15, 2021 -The Ruđer Bošković Institute of Science (IRB), the top science facility in Croatia, is hosting a public event. Despite the event being online, the educational and entertaining side of the 17-year-old manifestation won't go amiss.  

With the pandemic still causing havoc, events happen either with a limited number of visitors or in the virtual world. And with Ruđer Bošković Science Institute (IRB) being both socially responsible and brilliant in using modern technologies in the best possible matter - chose the latter. The doors of the Ruđer Bošković Science Insitute, from May 18th until May 22nd, unlike previous years, will not be as open as they were before for the public, but the scientific platforms which will be launched on the ODI2021 website aim to ensure an educational and fun experience.

The doors will be open to ''children of all ages, their parents, teachers, students, professors and everyone with a curious and open mind and an adventurous spirit“, IRB stated, welcoming people to join the platform in the description of their Facebook event announcement.

All the content will be available on social media under the following hashtags: #odi2021hibrid, #odi2021, and #istraziplatforme.

Additionally, you can follow the event on Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Ruđer Bošković, painted by R. Edge Pine in London, 1760 © public domain

The Ruđer Bošković Institute is named after Ruđer Bošković, a famous Croatian scientist and philosopher (May 18, 1711, in Dubrovnik - February 13, 1787, in Milan).  

The online edition of the Croatian Encyclopedia describes Ruđer Bošković as a universal mind that enrolled in various branches of science, was an excellent mathematician, and even a writer, and a poet who also dealt with practical problems such as swamp drainages and more.

''Bošković was the first person in the history of science to introduce the method of the equation of measurement by setting up two conditions that P.S Laplace later explained in a mathematical form, which is why it's called Laplace's method (in recent times it has been referred to as the Bošković.Laplace method)“, according to the Croatian Encyclopedia.

As Biografija.hr states, the IRB Institute was established back in 1950 and was originally focused on atomic physics. Today, however, IRB is the largest scientific research institution in all of Croatia.

''With its size, scientific productivity, international recognition in research, and the quality of scientific personnel and research equipment, it's the leading scientific institution for nature and biomedical sciences, as well as in the research of the sea and the environment“, says the IRB website.  

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© Ratko Mavar / Institut Ruđer Bošković

The aforementioned success and recognition saw the Ruđer Bošković Institute's open door day, which has been being held since back in 2004, and attracts huge public attention. Three thousand people attended the event back in 2019, making it an excellent opportunity to popularise and introduce science to people of all ages, in the hope society will appreciate scientists' hard work more on the one hand, and attract new generations to pursue scientific or research careers on the other.  

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

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