Table of contents



A great question p179


Who is the greatest chemist of all time?

Subject term: General chemistry



How to measure the impact of chemistry on the small screen pp180 - 182

Brady Haran & Martyn Poliakoff


Scientists worldwide are urged to communicate their research to the public, but what is the best way to judge the effectiveness of their efforts? Using our YouTube chemistry channel as an example, we highlight the unexpected difficulty of measuring the 'impact' of such outreach activities.

Subject term: General chemistry



Blogging on the sidelines pp183 - 184

Michelle Francl


Bloggers shouldn't be relegated to the sidelines of the scientific literature, argues Michelle Francl.

Subject term: General chemistry


Books and Arts

Looking back, looking forward p185

Mark Kurz reviews Much ado about (practically) nothing: A history of the noble gases by David E. Fisher



Research Highlights

Our choice from the recent literature pp186 - 187


Blogroll: Mind-altering blogs p187



News and Views

Dye-sensitized solar cells: Out with both baby and bathwater pp188 - 189

C. Michael Elliott


After two decades of research, the efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells seems to have reached a plateau. Now, changing both electrolyte and dye opens up new opportunities that offer the hope that the efficiency ceiling can be broken.

Subject terms: Electrochemistry | Polymer chemistry

See also: Article by Daeneke et al.

Switchable materials: A new spin on bistability pp189 - 191

Robin G. Hicks


Many different kinds of switchable molecules and materials are based on transition metal ions, but similar properties are also possible in organic materials. Now, two separate studies reveal new insights into the ability of organic radicals to associate reversibly and cooperatively in the solid state, and in so doing create bistable, hysteretic materials.

Subject terms: Materials chemistry | Physical chemistry

Electrochemical imaging: Waves in microscopy pp191 - 192

Lane A. Baker & Chiao-Chen Chen


Advances in transduction of electrochemical activity through surface plasmon resonance afford new opportunities for spatially and temporally resolved studies of interfaces.

Subject terms: Analytical chemistry | Electrochemistry | Materials chemistry | Surface chemistry

See also: Article by Wang et al.

Hydrogen bonding: Attractive arrays pp193 - 194

Andrew J. Wilson


Two readily accessible synthetic building blocks are shown to form a quadruply hydrogen-bonded heterodimer that exhibits exceptional stability and offers new opportunities for the construction of supramolecular assemblies and polymers.

Subject terms: Organic chemistry | Supramolecular chemistry

See also: Article by Blight et al.

Polymer folding: ABC of molecular origami pp194 - 196

Sébastien Perrier


Arranging polymers into well-defined shapes endows them with specific properties; but although it is routinely achieved in nature, accurate origami has proved challenging with synthetic polymers. A surprisingly simple folding strategy has now been described.

Subject term: Polymer chemistry

See also: Article by Schmidt et al.



Synthetic organic spin chemistry for structurally well-defined open-shell graphene fragments pp197 - 204

Yasushi Morita, Shuichi Suzuki, Kazunobu Sato & Takeji Takui


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Phenalenyl — a triangular neutral radical consisting of three adjacent benzene rings — and π-conjugated derivatives based on the same motif, can be viewed as 'open-shell graphene fragments'. This Perspective discusses their electronic-spin structures, the properties that arise from their unpaired electrons, and highlights their potential applications for molecular spin devices.

Subject terms: Materials chemistry | Organic chemistry | Physical chemistry



Activating efficient phosphorescence from purely organic materials by crystal design pp205 - 210

Onas Bolton, Kangwon Lee, Hyong-Jun Kim, Kevin Y. Lin & Jinsang Kim


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Purely organic materials are usually considered non-phosphorescent. Here, a crystal design that relies on the formation of halogen bonds is used to combine the heavy-atom effect with the triplet-state emission from aromatic carbonyls to produce organic crystals with bright phosphorescence of the type formerly observed only from inorganic and organometallic materials.

Subject terms: Materials chemistry | Photochemistry

High-efficiency dye-sensitized solar cells with ferrocene-based electrolytes pp211 - 215

Torben Daeneke, Tae-Hyuk Kwon, Andrew B. Holmes, Noel W. Duffy, Udo Bach & Leone Spiccia


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Dye-sensitized solar cells combining electrolytes based on the ferrocene/ferrocenium redox couple with a metal-free organic donor–acceptor sensitizer are reported to achieve a record 7.5% energy conversion efficiency, revealing the great potential of ferrocene-based electrolytes for future dye-sensitized solar cell applications.

Subject terms: Electrochemistry | Polymer chemistry

See also: News and Views by Elliott

Diverting non-haem iron catalysed aliphatic C–H hydroxylations towards desaturations pp216 - 222

Marinus A. Bigi, Sean A. Reed & M. Christina White


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Non-haem iron catalyst [Fe(PDP)] promotes mixed oxygenase/desaturase activity from unactivated, aliphatic C–H bonds. This novel reactivity is substrate dependent, relying on the presence of a carboxylic acid, and proceeds via a short-lived carbon-centred radical. Direct evidence for this intermediate is provided through rearrangement of a novel taxane-based radical probe.

Subject terms: Catalysis | Organic chemistry | Synthesis

Multiphoton photoresists giving nanoscale resolution that is inversely dependent on exposure time pp223 - 227

Michael P. Stocker, Linjie Li, Rafael R. Gattass & John T. Fourkas


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A broad new class of commercially available multiphoton photoinitiators is identified, the properties of which result in the inverse scaling of photolithographic feature size with exposure time, rather than the usual proportional scaling. On combination with a conventional initiator, photoresists can be created for which the feature size is independent of exposure.

Subject terms: Photochemistry | Nanotechnology | Physical chemistry

DNA charge transport over 34 nm pp228 - 233

Jason D. Slinker, Natalie B. Muren, Sara E. Renfrew & Jacqueline K. Barton


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The potential for using molecules as wires in nanoscale electronics is somewhat tempered by the challenges in making long and uniform structures. Now, it has been shown that DNA — which is easily synthesized to precise lengths — can conduct charge over 34 nm on multiplexed gold electrodes, a distance that surpasses most reports of molecular wires.

Subject terms: Biochemistry | Electrochemistry | Nanotechnology

Controlled folding of synthetic polymer chains through the formation of positionable covalent bridges pp234 - 238

Bernhard V. K. J. Schmidt, Nina Fechler, Jana Falkenhagen & Jean-François Lutz


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Synthetic polymers are typically difficult to fold into particular origamis because the monomers can usually not be precisely organized along their backbones. Reactive alkyne groups have now been placed at specific locations in linear polystyrene chains, enabling those to be folded into predetermined shapes through intramolecular covalent bonding.

Subject term: Polymer chemistry

See also: News and Views by Perrier

Palladium-mediated intracellular chemistry pp239 - 243

Rahimi M. Yusop, Asier Unciti-Broceta, Emma M. V. Johansson, Rosario M. Sánchez-Martín & Mark Bradley


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Palladium nanoparticles trapped within polystyrene beads can enter cells and mediate a variety of Pd0-catalysed reactions, including allylcarbamate cleavage and Suzuki–Miyaura cross-coupling. The methodology presented provides the basis for the customization of heterogeneous unnatural catalysts as tools for carrying out artificial chemistries within cells.

Subject terms: Chemical biology | Synthesis

An AAAA–DDDD quadruple hydrogen-bond array pp244 - 248

Barry A. Blight, Christopher A. Hunter, David A. Leigh, Hamish McNab & Patrick I. T. Thomson


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The stability of multiply hydrogen-bonded complexes can be influenced significantly by secondary electrostatic interactions between the pairs of atoms in adjacent hydrogen bonds. Now, a quadruple hydrogen-bonding array in which all of the donors are located in one component and all of the acceptors in the other has been shown to form complexes that are exceptionally stable.

Subject terms: Organic chemistry | Supramolecular chemistry

See also: News and Views by Wilson

Single cells and intracellular processes studied by a plasmonic-based electrochemical impedance microscopy pp249 - 255

Wei Wang, Kyle Foley, Xiaonan Shan, Shaopeng Wang, Seron Eaton, Vinay J. Nagaraj, Peter Wiktor, Urmez Patel & Nongjian Tao


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Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy is a useful tool for analysing biological substances, but it remains difficult to determine local details rather than average information over an electrode surface. Now, an electrochemical impedance microscope based on plasmonics has enabled the spatial and temporal study of cellular structures and processes, with submicrometre and millisecond resolutions.

Subject terms: Analytical chemistry | Electrochemistry | Surface chemistry

See also: News and Views by Baker & Chen

Spatial and temporal control of the alkyne–azide cycloaddition by photoinitiated Cu(II) reduction pp256 - 259

Brian J. Adzima, Youhua Tao, Christopher J. Kloxin, Cole A. DeForest, Kristi S. Anseth & Christopher N. Bowman


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The copper(I)-catalysed azide–alkyne cycloaddition is arguably the most prolific and powerful example of the click reaction paradigm. Here, photochemical reduction of Cu(II) allows spatial and temporal control over the reaction for small-molecule synthesis, patterning of hydrogel formation and the in situ labelling of gels, with features as small as 25 micrometres being produced.

Subject terms: Materials chemistry | Polymer chemistry


In Your Element

Tracing iodine p260

Pierangelo Metrangolo & Giuseppe Resnati


Pierangelo Metrangolo and Giuseppe Resnati celebrate the bicentenary of the discovery of iodine — a good time to also bring to its conclusion an international project that aims to define and categorize halogen bonding.