ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: January 08, 2014

Top chemical advances and more from the year 2013

"2013’s Bumper Crop of Research","And Calm Prevailed","A Divided Congress” & "C&EN Revisits 2003"
Chemical & Engineering News

From stretchy electronics to Martian chemistry, the most notable advances in the chemical world in 2013 appear in the year-in-review issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society. The issue also provides a look back at the business of chemistry and the politics affecting it, as well as an update on discoveries that a decade ago promised great things.

In “Research Year in Review,” which focuses on nine key developments, C&EN cites progress across chemistry’s diverse disciplines. Here’s a sampling: In organic chemistry, recognition went to speeding up the process for making ingenol, a promising biomedical compound that could help millions globally. It is used to treat a skin condition that, if left untreated, can lead to skin cancer. In the field of sustainability, researchers developed a solar-powered sterilizer that could provide safe water and sterile medical instruments to people in areas with limited resources. In spectroscopy, a new advance could vastly improve imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging.

Businesswise, the landscape is, in a word, “calm.” U.S. companies' strong results are balancing the declines facing the industry in Europe, and businesses in Asia are slowing but avoiding serious calamities. Politically, the bitter partisanship in Washington has affected the chemistry research enterprise and environmental regulations. The year-in-review package concludes with a retrospective on what research discoveries from 2003 are reaching their potential, and which have stalled.