24-Sep-2008 - Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)

Hawaiian scientists take their test tubes surfing

Chemists have traded their white coats for swim shorts at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu – they've shunned the lab so they can swim out to the breakers with a test-tube built into a boogie-board.

The glorious sunshine and the Pacific Ocean provide the perfect conditions for Robert Liu and colleagues' photochemical reactions, which use the sun's rays to make variants of vitamin A. The excess heat from the reaction is then effortlessly dissipated by the sea, presumably as the highly skilled chemist completes the reaction by riding a huge wave back to the beach.

The team show off their new surf reactor in the RSC journal Green Chemistry, including a few photos of the locals combining two Hawaiian passions – surfing and science.

Liu says the boogie-board reactor has "allowed us to tap the Pacific Ocean as an immense heat sink for the dissipation of the excess thermal energy discharged from the solar reactor, while at the same time it injects 'sun and fun' into our photochemical program."

Scaling up the reaction is easy too – just use a bigger surfboard, says Liu.

Facts, background information, dossiers
More about Royal Society of Chemistry
  • News

    New coating is self-defence for seeds

    Scientists in Switzerland have developed a protective coating for seeds that poisons pests with cyanide when they bite into it. The coating is a system of two layers and only becomes toxic when the layers are mixed, eliminating the problem of environmental contamination that is associated w ... more

    Using bacteria to make electrodes

    Scientists in France have produced hematite using a bacterial pathway for use as an electrode material in Li-ion technologies. Currently, most commercial electrode materials for Li-ion technologies are prepared using the ceramic method, which requires long heating periods at high temperatur ... more

    Marine plant replacement for platinum in solar cells

    An international research team has shown that that the power conversion efficiency of sea tangle extract is comparable to platinum in solar cell electrodes. Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) are quickly becoming a widespread and affordable alternative to photovoltaic solar cells. The electr ... more

  • Videos

    Royal Society of Chemistry – About us

    With more than 51,000 members and an international publishing and knowledge business we are the UK’s professional body for chemical scientists, supporting and representing our members and bringing together chemical scientists from all over the world. more

    A career in toxicology

    Hear from RSC member Vicki Stone talk about her role as a Nanotoxicologist. more

    When Food met Pharma: Delivery Strategies for Nutraceuticals

    With growing prevalence of lifestyle-associated diseases, including obesity, Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease, there is an urgent need and demand to try to prevent the onset of these diseases within our growing population. Nutraceuticals, along with appropriate diet and exercise, ... more

  • Companies

    Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)

    The RSC is a leading international publisher of highly regarded journals and books in the chemical sciences. The RSC is also the professional body for chemists with a global membership of over 46,000. more

More about University of Hawaii