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Winter 2016

Inquiry Magazine Archive

  • Spring 2016

    Spring 2016: Premium Blend

    Found in everything from space shuttles to dental fillings, composite materials have thoroughly infiltrated modern society. But their potential is still greatly untapped, offering researchers ample opportunity for discovery.

  • Fall 2015

    Fall 2015: Collision Course

    Within the particle showers created at the Large Hadron Collider, answers to some of the universe’s mysteries are waiting.

  • Spring 2015

    Spring 2015: Almost Human

    Model systems like pigeons can help illuminate our own evolutionary and genomic history.

  • Fall 2014

    Fall 2014: Small Wonder

    UT Arlington's tiny windmills are bringing renewable energy to a whole new scale.

  • Winter 2014

    Winter 2014: Overdue for an Overhaul

    The stability of our highways, pipelines, and even manholes is reaching a breaking point.

  • 2012

    2012: Mystery solved?

    Scientists believe they have discovered a subatomic particle that is crucial to understanding the universe.

  • 2011

    2011: Boosting brain power

    UT Arlington researchers unlock clues to the human body’s most mysterious and complex organ.

  • 2010

    2010: Powered by genetics

    UT Arlington researchers probe the hidden world of microbes in search of renewable energy sources.

  • 2009

    2009: Winning the battle against pain

    Wounded soldiers are benefiting from Robert Gatchel’s program that combines physical rehabilitation with treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • 2009

    2007: Sensing a solution

    Tiny sensors implanted in the body show promise in combating acid reflux disease, pain and other health problems.

  • 2006

    2006:Semiconductors: The next generation

    Nanotechnology researchers pursue hybrid silicon chips with life-saving potential.

  • 2005

    2005: Imaging is everything

    Biomedical engineers combat diseases with procedures that are painless to patients.


Green Chemistry

New water-based method of synthesizing organic compounds is better for our health, our wallets, and our environment 

A chemist at UTA has come up with a safer, greener, less expensive, and more efficient method of synthesizing the organic compounds typically used in items like pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and household chemicals. The key ingredient? Water.

"Using water as a solvent is ideal as it is benign, plentiful, cheap, and not harmful to the environment," says Morteza Khaledi, dean of the College of Science. "Our new system could facilitate cheaper, safer, and more efficient industrial reactions across a variety of sectors dependent on the synthesis of organic compounds."

Most organic synthesis requires volatile organic solvents that are expensive and can be significantly hazardous to human health and the environment. But Dr. Khaledi's new system is made of 80 to 90 percent water with fluoroalcohol and still produces higher yields than the purely organic solvents. It also allows the mixture to form two separate phases during the reaction, meaning that the resulting products can be separated easily out of the mixture by centrifuge. (Typically, industrial products require additional organic solvents to be separated and extracted.)

The organic solvent, Khaledi says, can even be recycled after the reaction.

"This is a clear step forward toward a ‘green' organic synthesis process," he continues.

Khaledi and his co-investigator, Nathaniel Weisner, a graduate student at North Carolina State University, published their work in the journal Green Chemistry.

Illustration by Harry Cambell

More articles from this issue

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