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Inorganic and Physical Chemistry

Welcome to the Nature Communications Editors’ Highlights webpage on inorganic 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 and physical chemistry at Nature Communications. Each editor handles a different area of this research, as described below:

Long Chen handles manuscripts in the areas of heterogeneous catalysis and analytical chemistry.

Victoria Richards handles manuscripts covering metal-organic frameworks and molecular inorganic chemistry.

Ariane Vartanian handles topics in nanoscale and supramolecular chemistry.

Adam West handles topics in physical and theoretical chemistry, with a particular focus on molecular spectroscopy and the chemistry of surfaces and interfaces.

Long Chen

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Supported metal nanoparticles hold great promise for many fields, including catalysis and renewable energy. Here the authors report a novel methodology for the in-situ growth of architecturally tailored, regenerative metal nanocatalysts that is applicable to a wide range of materials.

    • No Woo Kwak
    • , Seung Jin Jeong
    • , Han Gil Seo
    • , Siwon Lee
    • , YeonJu Kim
    • , Jun Kyu Kim
    • , Pilgyu Byeon
    • , Sung-Yoon Chung
    •  &  WooChul Jung
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Multi-scale chemical imaging holds the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the relationships between structure and functionality in complex catalytic materials. Here the authors report the results from the first 5D tomographic diffraction imaging experiment of a complex Ni – Pd/ CeO2 – ZrO2/ Al2O3 catalyst used for methane reforming.

    • A. Vamvakeros
    • , S. D. M. Jacques
    • , M. Di Michiel
    • , D. Matras
    • , V. Middelkoop
    • , I. Z. Ismagilov
    • , E. V. Matus
    • , V. V. Kuznetsov
    • , J. Drnec
    • , P. Senecal
    •  &  A. M. Beale
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The conversion of natural gas to chemicals and fuels via the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis process, depends on the ability of catalyst materials to suppress the formation of methane and carbon dioxide. Here, the authors develop a Co1Mn3-Na2S catalyst, which has a hydrocarbon product spectrum deviating from the Anderson–Schulz–Flory distribution.

    • Jingxiu Xie
    • , Pasi P. Paalanen
    • , Tom W. van Deelen
    • , Bert M. Weckhuysen
    • , Manuel J. Louwerse
    •  &  Krijn P. de Jong
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Traditional water–gas shift reaction process is hindered by harsh reaction conditions and extra steps for hydrogen separation and purification. Here, the authors report a room temperature electrochemical water–gas shift process for direct production of high purity hydrogen with a faradaic efficiency of approximately 100%.

    • Xiaoju Cui
    • , Hai-Yan Su
    • , Ruixue Chen
    • , Liang Yu
    • , Jinchao Dong
    • , Chao Ma
    • , Suheng Wang
    • , Jianfeng Li
    • , Fan Yang
    • , Jianping Xiao
    • , Mengtao Zhang
    • , Ding Ma
    • , Dehui Deng
    • , Dong H. Zhang
    • , Zhongqun Tian
    •  &  Xinhe Bao
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Current Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based fluorescence spectroscopy methods are suffering from some limitations in the field of structural biology. Here, the authors present an optical approach, distance-encoding photoinduced electron transfer (DEPET), capable of the simultaneous study of protein structure and function.

    • Antonios Pantazis
    • , Karin Westerberg
    • , Thorsten Althoff
    • , Jeff Abramson
    •  &  Riccardo Olcese
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) reaction is an important pathway to upgrade glycerol, but a fundamental explanation for the selectivity toward breaking different number and type of the CO bonds is still lacking. Here, the authors explore the possibility of tuning the HDO selectivity by manipulating the surface oxophilicity.

    • Weiming Wan
    • , Salai C. Ammal
    • , Zhexi Lin
    • , Kyung-Eun You
    • , Andreas Heyden
    •  &  Jingguang G. Chen

Victoria Richards

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Dilanthanide complexes that possess radical bridges exhibit enhanced magnetic exchange coupling, affording molecular magnets with high blocking temperatures. Here, the authors explore a series of dilanthanide-encapsulated fullerenes where the radical bridge is taken to its limit and the role is played by a single unpaired electron.

    • Fupin Liu
    • , Georgios Velkos
    • , Denis S. Krylov
    • , Lukas Spree
    • , Michal Zalibera
    • , Rajyavardhan Ray
    • , Nataliya A. Samoylova
    • , Chia-Hsiang Chen
    • , Marco Rosenkranz
    • , Sandra Schiemenz
    • , Frank Ziegs
    • , Konstantin Nenkov
    • , Aram Kostanyan
    • , Thomas Greber
    • , Anja U. B. Wolter
    • , Manuel Richter
    • , Bernd Büchner
    • , Stanislav M. Avdoshenko
    •  &  Alexey A. Popov
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Understanding the structural dynamics of flexible metal-organic frameworks at a thin-film level is key if they are to be implemented in devices. Here, Fischer and colleagues anchor flexible MOF crystallites onto substrates and identify a structural responsiveness that is distinct to that of the bulk.

    • Suttipong Wannapaiboon
    • , Andreas Schneemann
    • , Inke Hante
    • , Min Tu
    • , Konstantin Epp
    • , Anna Lisa Semrau
    • , Christian Sternemann
    • , Michael Paulus
    • , Samuel J. Baxter
    • , Gregor Kieslich
    •  &  Roland A. Fischer
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Gas-sensing materials are of increasing societal importance, but the ability to differentiate between similarly sized gases remains highly challenging. Here the authors report on a porous ferrimagnet that distinguishes diamagnetic N2 and CO2 gases from paramagnetic O2 gas.

    • Wataru Kosaka
    • , Zhaoyuan Liu
    • , Jun Zhang
    • , Yohei Sato
    • , Akihiro Hori
    • , Ryotaro Matsuda
    • , Susumu Kitagawa
    •  &  Hitoshi Miyasaka
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Halogen bonding can be exploited for the design of functional supramolecular materials, but heavier elements that are known to accept a halogen bond remain limited. Here, the authors demonstrate the formation of two-component cocrystals based on halogen bonds with phosphorus, arsenic and antimony.

    • Katarina Lisac
    • , Filip Topić
    • , Mihails Arhangelskis
    • , Sara Cepić
    • , Patrick A. Julien
    • , Christopher W. Nickels
    • , Andrew J. Morris
    • , Tomislav Friščić
    •  &  Dominik Cinčić
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Metal-organic frameworks are promising materials for proton exchange membrane fuel cells, but cumbersome ligand preparation and use of toxic metals or solvents hinders their application. Here, the authors report the green synthesis of a zirconium, amino acid-based MOF that displays high proton conductivity and excellent stability.

    • Sujing Wang
    • , Mohammad Wahiduzzaman
    • , Louisa Davis
    • , Antoine Tissot
    • , William Shepard
    • , Jérôme Marrot
    • , Charlotte Martineau-Corcos
    • , Djemel Hamdane
    • , Guillaume Maurin
    • , Sabine Devautour-Vinot
    •  &  Christian Serre
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    While chemical bonding between carbon and the d- and p-block elements is relatively well-studied, that between carbon and the f-block elements remains comparatively poorly understood. Here, the authors synthesize a series of uranium−carbone complexes in which carbon forms an unprecedented double dative bond to uranium.

    • Wei Su
    • , Sudip Pan
    • , Xiong Sun
    • , Shuao Wang
    • , Lili Zhao
    • , Gernot Frenking
    •  &  Congqing Zhu

Ariane Vartanian

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    While many processes in biological cells can be understood in terms of molecular logic gates that process information sequentially and combinationally, the design and construction of such devices in the laboratory are unknown. Here the authors achieve this by the reversibly-controlled capture and release of guest molecules from host containers.

    • Brian Daly
    • , Thomas S. Moody
    • , Allen J. M. Huxley
    • , Chaoyi Yao
    • , Benjamin Schazmann
    • , Andre Alves-Areias
    • , John F. Malone
    • , H. Q. Nimal Gunaratne
    • , Peter Nockemann
    •  &  A. Prasanna de Silva
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Strand displacement is commonly used in DNA nanotechnology to program dynamic interactions between individual DNA strands. Here, the authors describe a tile displacement principle that is similar in concept but occurs on a larger structural level: the displacement reactions take place between DNA origami tiles, allowing reconfiguration of entire systems of interacting DNA structures.

    • Philip Petersen
    • , Grigory Tikhomirov
    •  &  Lulu Qian
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Hierarchical non-intertwined ring-in-ring complexes are intriguing but challenging supramolecular targets. Here, the authors describe a box-in-box assembly based on radical-pairing interactions between two rigid diradical dicationic cyclophanes; the inner box can further accommodate guests to form Russian doll-like assemblies.

    • Kang Cai
    • , Mark C. Lipke
    • , Zhichang Liu
    • , Jordan Nelson
    • , Tao Cheng
    • , Yi Shi
    • , Chuyang Cheng
    • , Dengke Shen
    • , Ji-Min Han
    • , Suneal Vemuri
    • , Yuanning Feng
    • , Charlotte L. Stern
    • , William A. Goddard III
    • , Michael R. Wasielewski
    •  &  J. Fraser Stoddart
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Adapting the cavity of a coordination capsule generally involves the addition or removal of subcomponents. Here, the authors report two vanadium-organic coordination nanocapsules with the same number of components but variable cavity sizes—an expanded ball and contracted octahedron—whose solvent-controlled interconversion is attributed to the versatile coordination geometry of the vanadium centers.

    • Kongzhao Su
    • , Mingyan Wu
    • , Daqiang Yuan
    •  &  Maochun Hong
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Nanographenes with zig-zag peripheries are expected to have unique electronic properties, but their application in organic electronics has been curbed by their difficult synthesis. Here, the authors develop a facile route to zig-zag nanographenes based on a key dehydrative π-extension reaction.

    • Dominik Lungerich
    • , Olena Papaianina
    • , Mikhail Feofanov
    • , Jia Liu
    • , Mirunalini Devarajulu
    • , Sergey I. Troyanov
    • , Sabine Maier
    •  &  Konstantin Amsharov
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Induced-fit binding, common in biological systems, is still relatively rare in artificial hosts. Here, the authors assemble a molecular cube from six gear-shaped faces, whose interdigitated design allows the cube to expand and contract in response to the size, shape, and charge of a guest molecule.

    • Yi-Yang Zhan
    • , Tatsuo Kojima
    • , Takashi Nakamura
    • , Toshihiro Takahashi
    • , Satoshi Takahashi
    • , Yohei Haketa
    • , Yoshiaki Shoji
    • , Hiromitsu Maeda
    • , Takanori Fukushima
    •  &  Shuichi Hiraoka

Adam West

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Space charge effects can distort the results of photoelectron spectroscopic measurements, and usually limit the allowable photon flux in an experiment. Here, the authors present an 18.4 MHz repetition rate high harmonic source in the 25–60 eV range, with a large count rate improvement over state-of-the-art attosecond setups under identical space charge conditions.

    • T. Saule
    • , S. Heinrich
    • , J. Schötz
    • , N. Lilienfein
    • , M. Högner
    • , O. deVries
    • , M. Plötner
    • , J. Weitenberg
    • , D. Esser
    • , J. Schulte
    • , P. Russbueldt
    • , J. Limpert
    • , M. F. Kling
    • , U. Kleineberg
    •  &  I. Pupeza
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Radiation-induced low-energy electrons in solution are implicated in DNA damage, but their relaxation dynamics are not well understood. Here the authors observe how quasi-free electrons dissociate glycosidic bonds via an excited nucleoside anion radical, whereas solvated electrons reside on the nucleoside as a relatively stable anion radical.

    • Jun Ma
    • , Anil Kumar
    • , Yusa Muroya
    • , Shinichi Yamashita
    • , Tsuneaki Sakurai
    • , Sergey A. Denisov
    • , Michael D. Sevilla
    • , Amitava Adhikary
    • , Shu Seki
    •  &  Mehran Mostafavi
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The analysis of chiral chemical mixtures is crucial for many applications. Here, the authors perform real-time analysis of samples by ionizing them with elliptically polarized femtosecond laser pulses and detecting the angular distributions of the photoelectrons.

    • A. Comby
    • , E. Bloch
    • , C. M. M. Bond
    • , D. Descamps
    • , J. Miles
    • , S. Petit
    • , S. Rozen
    • , J. B. Greenwood
    • , V. Blanchet
    •  &  Y. Mairesse
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Non-invasive spatiotemporal probing of electric potentials in living neurons without chemical or genetic modification provides a major advancement to neuroscience. Here, the authors demonstrate the use of membrane water as a probe for neuronal membrane potentials and ionic flux.

    • M. E. P. Didier
    • , O. B. Tarun
    • , P. Jourdain
    • , P. Magistretti
    •  &  S. Roke
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Molecular aggregation is a widespread and important process in physiological metabolism, but details regarding conformational changes during the process are hard to probe. Here, the authors use circular dichroism to monitor in-situ the conformational changes occurring during molecular aggregation.

    • Haoke Zhang
    • , Xiaoyan Zheng
    • , Ryan T. K. Kwok
    • , Jia Wang
    • , Nelson L. C. Leung
    • , Lin Shi
    • , Jing Zhi Sun
    • , Zhiyong Tang
    • , Jacky W. Y. Lam
    • , Anjun Qin
    •  &  Ben Zhong Tang
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Long-lived excitons in a two-dimensional metal-organic crystal can be produced by visible light and detected by infrared radiation. Here, the authors show that the excitonic state of a biomimetic macrocycle can be ‘read’ by measuring the vibrations of an adsorbed ligand.

    • M. Corva
    • , A. Ferrari
    • , M. Rinaldi
    • , Z. Feng
    • , M. Roiaz
    • , C. Rameshan
    • , G. Rupprechter
    • , R. Costantini
    • , M. Dell’Angela
    • , G. Pastore
    • , G. Comelli
    • , N. Seriani
    •  &  E. Vesselli