Author Archives: albertolesarri

Sulfur hydrogen bonds

Hydrogen bonds (HBs) involving sulfur are considered much weaker than those of more electronegative atoms. We recently published a comparison between the HBs in the furfuryl mercaptan – water dimer and compared the HBs with those in furfuryl alcohol. The investigation is being published in Chemistry – A European Journal.

In the figure below a 3D drawing of the electronegativity along the periodic table and the observed dimers.


Cosmic dawn

Category : Cosmology , General News

A VHF absorption signal at 78 MHz in the sky-averaged spectrum has been interpreted as a result of the formation of the first stars, a process that illuminated the universe with UV radiation and is called the cosmic dawn, as reported in a comment and article in Nature. The UV radiation would modify the excitation state of the 1420.4  MHz hydrogen spin atomic transition and would indicate the universe temperature. The linewidth suggest that the first stars appear 180 Myears after the Big Bang, while the flatten line profile has been connected speculatively with the interaction between normal matter and dark matter, which, if confirmed, would be truly remarkable.

Mars panorama

Following a five-year work of data collection the Mars rover “Curiosity” has produced an impressive panorama of the Gale impact crater that it has been exploring. The rover includes several spectroscopic experiments, including a LIBS (laser induced breakdown spectroscopy) instrument, capable to probe atomic composition at distances up to 7 m wit a 1064 nm IR laser. Other experiments include Raman spectroscopy (532 nm), Time-Resolved Fluorescence (TRF) spectroscopy and Visible and InfraRed (VISIR) reflectance spectroscopy (400 – 900 nm, 1.3 – 2.6 µm).

In the picture below the first LIBS spectrum on the “coronation” rock (August 2012).

Caminati visit

Category : Group News

Professor Walther Caminati (Università di Bologna) visited our group for two weeks in January 2018. Prof. Caminati is a leading figure in the investigation of hydrogen bonding using microwave spectroscopy. A recent report in Angewandte Chemie examined why some dimers of carboxylic acids and alcohols were unobservable in the gas phase. Read “The borderline between reactivity and prereactivity or binary mixtures of gaseous carboxylic acids and alcohols“.

In the picture below Prof. Caminati (center), Marcos Juanes y Rizalina T. Saragi.

Aromatics in space

Benzonitrile has been detected in the interstellar medium, as reported in Science. The interest of this aromatic molecule is the possibility of calculating the abundance of benzene from which it was generated, together with the growing interest to indentify the carriers of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and polycyclic aromatic nitrogen heterocycles. The report is introduced by Joblin and Cernicharo in the same issue. An updated list of molecules found in the space can be obtained from the Institut of Physics at the University of Cologne. In the picture below the Green Bank telescope. Related to this, Nature informs that the Arecibo telescope was saved from being dismantled thanks to a mistery funder.

Chemistry Anniversary

Category : General News , University

The Faculty of Sciences celebrated the 75th anniversary of the first promotion of the Chemistry Degree (1935-1942) last November 15th. The origin of the Faculty dates back to 1857, but only in 1923 the Chemistry studies were extended first to 2 years and later to the full 5 years Degree. The celebration included an historical exhibition with pictures and legacy documents, like the first Ph.D. thesis of 1957.

In the picture below a copy from the local news mentioning the anniversary, with the Rector and invited guests, all former alumni of the UVa.

Two of the exhibition posters are shown below.

Nobel Day

Category : Cosmology , General News

The Nobel prize in Physics went to the gravitational waves, not a surprise. The Chemistry prize was for Cryomicroscopy (Method of the Year 2015 according to Nature Methods, but more a software development than a conceptual revolution). The Spanish Journal Investigación y Ciencia is presenting an article on the history of cryomicroscopy. Simultaneously, the Faculty of Sciences and the Spanish Physics Society organized an interesting conference last November 14th by Prof. Mariano Santander and Prof. Santiago Mar to introduce the gravitional waves and the detection technique. You can watch the talks on the YouTube channel of the UVa.

75th. Chemistry-UVa

Category : General News

The Faculty of Sciences will organize several events to commemorate the 75 anniversary of the first full Chemistry Degrees at the UVa. Despite the Faculty of Sciences was first established in 1857, it was later reorganized in 1923 and only in 1942 the first 5-year Chemistry program was concluded. The events will include an exhibition honoring Marie Curie (September 21-October 20, 2017) and a series of conferences next November 15th.



The XXII Horizons in Hydrogen Bonding Research conference was organized by the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) last September 10-14, 2017. The meeteing attracted a wide range of researchers interested in theoretical and experimental aspects related to hydrogen bonding. Alberto Lesarri presented an oral talk and two posters at the conference. Two meetings in Finland this year …

In the pictures below the conference photo, one of our posters and the Helsinki Senate square.


Category : General News

The Cassini spacecraft was destroyed into Saturn atmosphere after more than 13 years orbiting the planet. A selection of 100 wonderful pictures of the mission was published by NYT. In his time in Saturn’s orbit Cassini found liquid methane-ethane lakes in Titan (1-100 km width) and  water-rich jets coming out of Enceladus south pole, among other discoveries. We will miss the robot.

Below a diagram of Titan’s atmospheric chemistry and Enceladus’ jets.