Chemistry is not only a core scientific discipline, it is also of key relevance to others. Many research breakthroughs in physics and the development of sophisticated drug therapies would not have happened without using the principles and methods of chemistry. And our understanding of biology and of our environment would be limited indeed if it were not for the vital contributions from this branch of science.
Such issues persist: it is essential for chemistry to develop new tools, materials and processes to help us take on the problems and challenges of the twenty-first century. The creativity, ingenuity and perseverance of chemists will be crucial in successfully meeting the need for efficient and affordable medicines, for alternative energy and fuel sources, or for smart materials to improve modern technologies.
“Nature Chemistry will make use of the Internet to publish scientific information in ways that conventional paper journals cannot.”
Happily, the chemistry research community is delivering. Examples range from ever more sophisticated and efficient syntheses for formidably complex organic molecules of interest to biology and medicine, to rationally designed catalysts that could render industrial processes greener and more efficient. A plethora of materials are being designed at the molecular level to optimize their function, whether for capturing carbon dioxide, harnessing sunlight to generate useful chemicals or energy, or delivering and releasing a drug at just the right place in the body.
Meanwhile, an ever-growing array of chemistry-based tools is enabling researchers to probe, at the atomic level and on the timescale of molecular vibrations, the structure and properties of molecules and the processes that involve them. These technical developments are all the more rich and exciting because theorists have delivered the computational and simulation capabilities that are needed to translate sophisticated data into detailed microscopic pictures of molecular interactions, properties and processes.
With all that in mind, Nature's publishers are this month launching Nature Chemistry: the fifteenth Nature research journal. (The first in the series, Nature Genetics, was launched in 1992.)
As with other Nature research journals, the editors of Nature Chemistry aim to present its readers with stimulating science as well as informative commentaries and debates. But in doing so, they will also make use of the Internet to publish scientific information in ways that conventional paper journals cannot. One example is the linking of research articles to pages containing information about the compounds being discussed, including interactive three-dimensional models of the chemical structures. Another is the use of pop-up windows to display chemical structures when the cursor hovers over a compound number in the main text of an article.
The journal will also adopt compound identifiers that, by enabling online searching for chemicals, aim to provide global and efficient access to chemical information and assist communication between chemists. These facilities will be adopted by Nature and other journals in the stable in due course.
Of course, Nature's own ambition is to continue publishing papers that have the deepest or broadest impact on chemistry, or that have particularly exciting application possibilities. Judging by past experience in other disciplines, the new journal will indirectly help to strengthen the impact and range of Nature's own papers in the field. And Nature, in turn, will make use of its media expertise to provide exposure to exciting chemistry published in both journals.
We invite readers to take a look at the first issue of Nature Chemistry at http://www.nature.com/naturechemistry and enjoy the read.