Metal-organic frameworks (MOF) are new porous materials formed by assembling metal elements and organic, carbon-based bricks. This architecture makes them easy to synthesize and the number of potential structures is almost unlimited. Commercial applications, such as gas storage, are arriving on the market.

Thanks to genomics and bioinformatics, we brought together about thirty enzymes from a wide variety of different organisms, creating anticancer drugs and painkillers in baker’s yeast. This strategy paves the way for wide-scale production of these plant-inspired medicines.

Following archaeological digs, analysis of the lead pollution in sediments in the antique port of Naples proves that the region’s vast water supply network, based on the Augustan Aqueduct, was profoundly affected by the infamous eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii.

In the year 79, the eruption of Vesuvius buried a large swathe of the Bay of Naples in a cloud of ash. It entirely destroyed Pompeii and Herculanum, and killed more than 3,000 people. Historians and archaeologists have long wondered about the consequences of the eruption on the water supply of the bay, a popular holiday destination for the Roman aristocracy.

Towns on the Bay of Naples were supplied with fresh water by the Aqua Augusta, a network of galleries, canals, r...

Storing data! The challenge of the 21st century… A few bytes written onto long chains of synthetic polymers are opening up huge perspectives.

 Photo credit: Tomasz Sowinski/Getty Image

In brief

  • Data storage on traditional materials (silicon, hard disks) is reaching its limits.

  • To overcome these limits, chemists are starting to store digital data on natural polymers, such as DNA, but also on synthetic polymers.

  • Today, synthetic polymers can be used to store a few bytes.

In our digital society, we are producing ever more data: documents, images, videos… and it is becoming increasingly difficult to conserve them. Data centres funded by the Internet giants are monopolising vast spaces that require huge quantities of energy. An...

It is no longer enough to use change in state to explain cloud formation. The role of chemical and biological substances must now be added.

 Photo credit A. Frossard

In brief:

  • Cloud behaviour still escapes modelling.

  • The geometry and chemical composition of aerosol particles around which water droplets condense must be taken into account.

  • Substances probably of organic origin, surfactants, play an essential role in lowering the surface tension of the drop.

Say, where do clouds come from? We have all asked this question at one time or another. Conscientiously, we told a wonderful story, of water vapour released from the ground that rises to altitude, meets cold air and condenses into droplets to form a cloud. The thermodyna...

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Photo Bernard Martinez


Managing Editor


La Recherche, founded in 1970, is a major source of science information in France for science-interested citizens, leading universities and research institutions. The site publishes the English version of a series of articles about the most advanced achievements appearing in our printed French version.


November 11, 2018

November 11, 2018

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