Table of contents



Home sweet homepage p697


The importance of an up to date and easy to find website should not be underestimated by scientists looking to establish links to others in their community — and represents good value for relatively little effort.

Subject Category: General chemistry



Uncertainty in chemistry pp698 - 700

Fredric M. Menger


It might come as a disappointment to some chemists, but just as there are uncertainties in physics and mathematics, there are some chemistry questions we may never know the answer to either, suggests Fredric M. Menger.

Subject Categories: General chemistry | Polymer chemistry


Books and Arts

Television: Can we have some more? p701



Research Highlights

Our choice from the recent literature pp702 - 703


Blogroll: Got your number p703



News and Views

Actinide chemistry: A tale of two nitrides pp705 - 706

Paula Diaconescu


The first thing that comes to mind about uranium is certainly not its similarity to iron. Chemists have now shown that the two have a lot in common.

Subject Category: Inorganic chemistry

See also: Article by Thomson et al.

Hydrated electrons: Defying cavity p706

Gavin Armstrong


Subject Categories: Physical chemistry | Theoretical chemistry

Amyloid formation: Interface influence pp707 - 708

Ian W. Hamley


The aggregation of proteins into fibrils plays a crucial role in neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease. Further insight into fibril formation has now been gained that reveals the effect of hydrophobic surfaces, including air.

Subject Category: Physical chemistry

Interlocked molecules: Linking rings without templates pp708 - 710

Jonathan E. Beves & David A. Leigh


Interlocking molecules in solution usually requires recognition motifs that direct the assembly of the building blocks. Triply interlocked catenanes have now been constructed just relying on the interpenetration of structures typical of the solid state and slow reversible covalent bond formation.

Subject Category: Supramolecular chemistry

See also: Article by Hasell et al.

Organometallic chemistry: C–H carboxylation takes gold pp710 - 711

Derek M Dalton & Tomislav Rovis


A highly basic gold catalyst has been shown to mediate the reaction of aromatic C–H bonds with carbon dioxide. The reaction provides a potential method of fixing atmospheric carbon dioxide and producing valuable chemical products.

Subject Categories: Green chemistry | Organometallic chemistry

Bioinorganic chemistry: Redox control of oxoiron(IV) pp711 - 712

Kenneth D. Karlin


The oxygen-evolving centre in the protein complex photosystem II involves Ca2+ within a high-valent oxomanganese cluster, but the role of Ca2+ has yet to be clarified. Interestingly, the electron-transfer behaviour of a non-haem oxoiron(IV) complex has now been found to be significantly altered by Lewis acid metal-ion binding to the oxo atom.

Subject Categories: Inorganic chemistry | Biochemistry

See also: Article by Fukuzumi et al.



Heterogeneous oxidation of atmospheric aerosol particles by gas-phase radicals pp713 - 722

I. J. George & J. P. D. Abbatt


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Aerosol particles are crucially important to the chemistry of the atmosphere, influencing both climate and air quality. This Review discusses progress in understanding the radical-initiated heterogeneous oxidation of atmospheric aerosols, focusing on the reaction mechanisms and kinetics, and also their effects on the physico-chemical properties of particles.

Subject Categories: Environmental chemistry | Physical chemistry



Uranium azide photolysis results in C–H bond activation and provides evidence for a terminal uranium nitride pp723 - 729

Robert K. Thomson, Thibault Cantat, Brian L. Scott, David E. Morris, Enrique R. Batista & Jaqueline L. Kiplinger


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The chemistry of the U≡N species is little known, even though solid uranium nitride has been proposed for use as a nuclear fuel. Now, photolysis of a uranium azide complex has been shown to release N2 and generate a transient U≡N fragment that can activate C–H bonds.

Subject Category: Inorganic chemistry

See also: News and Views by Diaconescu

The role of steps in surface catalysis and reaction oscillations pp730 - 734

Bas L. M. Hendriksen, Marcelo D. Ackermann, Richard van Rijn, Dunja Stoltz, Ioana Popa, Olivier Balmes, Andrea Resta, Didier Wermeille, Roberto Felici, Salvador Ferrer & Joost W. M. Frenken


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Steps are known to be important sites on the surface of heterogeneous catalysts. Now it is shown that the density of steps on a palladium surface can alter its stability, and thus reactivity, and is key to understanding the oscillatory behaviour of the CO oxidation reaction at atmospheric pressure.

Subject Categories: Surface chemistry | Catalysis | Physical chemistry

Highly enantioselective synthesis and cellular evaluation of spirooxindoles inspired by natural products pp735 - 740

Andrey P. Antonchick, Claas Gerding-Reimers, Mario Catarinella, Markus Schürmann, Hans Preut, Slava Ziegler, Daniel Rauh & Herbert Waldmann


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A Lewis-acid-catalysed 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition provides rapid access to a variety of substituted spirooxindoles. Initial cellular evaluations supports the view that compound collections based on natural-product-inspired scaffolds constructed with complex stereochemistry, and decorated with assorted substituents, will be a rich source of compounds with diverse bioactivity.

Subject Categories: Medicinal chemistry | Chemical biology | Synthesis

Molecules containing rare-earth atoms solely bonded by transition metals pp741 - 744

Mikhail V. Butovskii, Christian Döring, Viktor Bezugly, Frank R. Wagner, Yuri Grin & Rhett Kempe


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Although intermetallic compounds and alloys feature metal atoms bonded solely to other metal atoms, this motif is unusual in molecular compounds. Now, three compounds with lanthanide metals surrounded by transition metal atoms have been made. Although reactive, they mimic intermetallic bonding and form a conceptual link from coordination compounds.

Subject Category: Inorganic chemistry

Electrically induced bonding of DNA to gold pp745 - 749

Matthias Erdmann, Ralf David, Ann R. Fornof & Hermann E. Gaub


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The assembly and evaluation of molecular structures on surfaces has been boosted by advances in single-molecule techniques. The development of such methods are continued here, showing that double-stranded DNA, bound to the tip of an atomic force microscope, can be deposited on the surface of a gold electrode using an electrical trigger.

Subject Categories: Nanotechnology | Physical chemistry | Surface chemistry

Triply interlocked covalent organic cages pp750 - 755

Tom Hasell, Xiaofeng Wu, James T. A. Jones, John Bacsa, Alexander Steiner, Tamoghna Mitra, Abbie Trewin, Dave J. Adams & Andrew I. Cooper


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Interlocked molecules commonly include one (or more) monocyclic component — examples comprising bicyclic or tricyclic structures are much more rare and usually involve metal–ligand coordination or additional templates. Now, the dynamic self-assembly of twenty organic molecules in a one-pot synthesis has been shown to produce tetrahedral covalent cages, which interpenetrate during the process to form triply interlocked dimers.

Subject Category: Supramolecular chemistry

See also: News and Views by Beves & Leigh

Crystal structure of a metal ion-bound oxoiron(IV) complex and implications for biological electron transfer pp756 - 759

Shunichi Fukuzumi, Yuma Morimoto, Hiroaki Kotani, Panče Naumov, Yong-Min Lee & Wonwoo Nam


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The interactions of metal ions with metaloxo species are crucial in many important biological processes, such as the oxygen-evolving complex (OEC) in photosystem II, but their exact function remains elusive. Now, the binding of metal ions to a non-haem oxoiron complex has been studied and the observed changes to its electron-transfer properties provide insights into the active site of the OEC.

Subject Categories: Inorganic chemistry | Biochemistry

See also: News and Views by Karlin

Raising the cycling stability of aqueous lithium-ion batteries by eliminating oxygen in the electrolyte pp760 - 765

Jia-Yan Luo, Wang-Jun Cui, Ping He & Yong-Yao Xia


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Aqueous lithium-ion batteries have great potential as stationary power sources, but they have had problems with poor stability. A significant improvement in their cycling stability has been achieved by eliminating oxygen, adjusting the electrolyte pH values, and using a carbon-coated electrode material.

Subject Categories: Electrochemistry | Materials chemistry

Cooperative catalysis by carbenes and Lewis acids in a highly stereoselective route to γ-lactams pp766 - 771

Dustin E. A. Raup, Benoit Cardinal-David, Dane Holte & Karl A. Scheidt


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In nature, enzymes can orchestrate the combination of several different catalytic species, but mimicking this with synthetic catalysts is often problematic due to undesirable interactions between the catalysts. Here, an N-heterocyclic carbene and a Lewis acid cooperate to catalyse the efficient formation of γ-lactams.

Subject Categories: Catalysis | Organic chemistry | Synthesis

A polyhedron made of tRNAs pp772 - 779

Isil Severcan, Cody Geary, Arkadiusz Chworos, Neil Voss, Erica Jacovetty & Luc Jaeger


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Whereas synthetic DNA nanostructures are widely studied, the use of RNA as a structural building block is much less common. Now, it has been shown that tRNA molecules can be designed to assemble into a rigid and thermally stable square antiprism structure that may prove useful for delivery applications inside cells.

Subject Categories: Biochemistry | Nanotechnology | Supramolecular chemistry

Networked molecular cages as crystalline sponges for fullerenes and other guests pp780 - 783

Yasuhide Inokuma, Tatsuhiko Arai & Makoto Fujita


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The wealth of solution-chemistry properties of a well-known M6L4 coordination cage can be transferred into the solid state by networking the cage into a highly porous crystalline structure. The material behaves as a ‘fullerene sponge’, absorbing up to 35 wt% of C60 or C70 into the crystal, with a preference for C70 when exposed to mixtures of the two.

Subject Categories: Inorganic chemistry | Materials chemistry | Supramolecular chemistry

Two- and three-dimensional extended solids and metallization of compressed XeF2 pp784 - 788

Minseob Kim, Mathew Debessai & Choong-Shik Yoo


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Xenon difluoride is one of the most stable noble-gas fluoride compounds with a simple linear molecular structure. It has now been shown to undergo several phase transitions at high pressures to give extended solids and even a metallic phase containing XeF8 polyhedra.

Subject Categories: Inorganic chemistry | Physical chemistry



Size-specific catalytic activity of platinum clusters enhances oxygen reduction reactions p789

Kimihisa Yamamoto, Takane Imaoka, Wang-Jae Chun, Osamu Enoki, Hideaki Katoh, Masahiro Takenaga & Atsunori Sonoi



In Your Element

Behind platinum's sparkle p790

Vivian W. W. Yam


As a rare and precious metal that is also resistant to wear and tarnish, platinum is known to be particularly well-suited to jewellery. Vivian Yam reflects on how, beyond its prestigious image, platinum has also found its way into a variety of fields ranging from the petrochemical to the pharmaceutical industry.