Focus |

Inorganic, Nanoscale and Physical Chemistry

Jacilynn Brant: materials chemistry and functional materials.

Long Chen: photo- and heterogeneous catalysis.

Margherita Citroni: physical and analytical chemistry.

Ariane Vartanian: nanoscale and supramolecular chemistry.

Welcome to the Nature Communications Editors’ Highlights webpage on inorganic, nanoscale and physical chemistry. Each month our editors select a small number of Articles recently published in Nature Communications that they believe are particularly interesting or important.

The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the area of inorganic, nanoscale and physical chemistry at Nature Communications.

Make sure to check the Editors' Highlights page each month for new featured articles.

Water’s hydrogen-bond network is truncated at hydrophobic interfaces and the dynamics of the resulting free OH groups is not well understood. The authors experimentally show that the main vibrational relaxation mechanism for free OH at the air-water interface is a diffusive molecular reorientation, rather than intramolecular energy transfer.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Electrification of water upon contact with hydrophobic surfaces is a ubiquitous but poorly understood phenomenon. Here, the authors pinpoint the factors responsible for the excess positive charge carried by water droplets dispensed from hydrophobic capillaries, thereby answering some outstanding questions and raising new ones.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Spectroscopic studies of water clusters provide insight into the hydrogen bond structure of water and ice. The authors measure infrared spectra of neutral water octamers using a threshold photoionization technique based on a tunable vacuum-UV free electron laser, identifying two cubic isomers in addition to those previously observed.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Hydrogen has multiple molecular phases which are challenging to explore computationally. The authors develop a machine-learning approach, learning from reference ab initio molecular dynamics simulations, to derive a transferable hierarchical force model that provides insight into high pressure phases and the melting line of H2.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Heterogenous ice nucleation is a ubiquitous phenomenon, but predicting the ice nucleation ability of a substrate is challenging. Here the authors develop a machine-learning data-driven approach to predict the ice nucleation ability of substrates, which is based on four descriptors related to physical properties of the interface.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Multivalent ligand-receptor interactions enhance binding selectivity in biological systems, and may be exploited to design synthetic systems. Here the authors demonstrate a multivalent behavior where the ability to bind the target occurs when the receptor density is within a specific range.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Eumelanin protects cells from sun damage and is promising for energy conversion applications, but its structure and excited state dynamics are elusive. Here the authors shed light on both aspects combining selective excitation of UV- and visible-absorbing chromophores with time-resolved infrared spectroscopy.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Chirality of nanostructures may be determined by ensemble measurements in solution or on single immobilized nanoparticles, with loss of detail or interference from the substrate. Here the authors demonstrate that circular differential scattering intensity spectra of freely diffusing single nanoparticles provide chiroptical spectra which reflect their intrinsic chirality.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Photoreceptor UVR8 in plants senses environmental UV levels through 26 structural tryptophan residues, but the role of 18 of them was unknown. The authors show, by experiments and computations, how these form a light-harvesting network that funnels the excitation to the pyramid centers enhancing the light-perception efficiency.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

The reaction trajectories of photoexcited molecules may involve transitions through conical intersections, which are ubiquitous in nature but challenging to characterize. Here the authors provide a complete mapping of molecular dissociation of two model alkyl halides by ultrafast XUV transient absorption.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications