In 1669, Hennig Brand, a German merchant and alchemist, tried a novel experiment he hoped would yield the mythical “philosopher’s stone,” a way to spin base metals into gold. His exact formula is lost to history, but we know he heated urine in a retort, or glass chamber, until the vessel glowed and the dripping liquid burst into flames. Urine, it turned out, wasn’t a source of gold. It was a source of phosphorus, a previously unknown element and the first one isolated in the laboratory.
Department of Chemistry
Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) are a revolutionary new class of crystalline solids that can be designed to trap myriad kinds of matter, including greenhouse gases, or to be used as nanosized drug carriers. They can also pull water from desert air.
It might sound slightly science fictional or possibly James Bond-ian, but this is what Dmitry Budker actually does: He shoots green lasers at colored diamonds.