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Browse a Collection of recent Articles in Chemical biology

Featuring biocatalysis, biosynthesis, structural biology, chemical probes and medicinal chemistry.


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  • The installation of difluoromethylene groups into bio-relevant molecules allows access to important scaffolds, but existing methods to do so often rely on oxidative chemical species that can hamper reactivity. Here, radical hydrodifluoromethylation with a wide range of unsaturated C–C bonds is achieved via an electroreductive two-pronged approach, granting access to a variety of difluoromethylated organic molecules.

    • Seonyoung Kim
    • Keon Ha Hwang
    • Hyunwoo Kim
    Article Open Access
  • Efficient electron-hole separation and carrier utilization are key factors in photosynthetic systems. Here, the authors achieve efficient charge separation following a photogenerated hole-transfer band-trap pathway in the ternary composite Pt@NH2-UiO-66/CdS, resulting in photocatalytic hydrogen evolution with good stability and a quantum efficiency of 40.3% at 400 nm irradiation.

    • Zichao Lian
    • Zhao Li
    • Weiwei Yang
    Article Open Access
  • Photoinduced conjugation has been broadly used for functionalization of molecules but is limited by possible photodegradation. Here, the authors report a robust amide bond formation method based on the photoreaction of 3-acylindolizines with amines triggered via red-light irradiation in nearly quantitative yields within less than 5 min.

    • Kenji Watanabe
    • Asuka Kuratsu
    • Takamitsu Hosoya
    Article Open Access
  • Photo-mediated radical dearomatization involving 5-exo-trig cyclizations has proven to be an important route to accessing spirocyclic compounds, whereas 6-exo-trig spirocyclization has been much less explored. Here, a dearomative annulation cascade is realized through a photoredox-mediated C–O bond activation of aromatic carboxylic acids to produce two kinds of spirocyclic frameworks, whereby the spirocyclizations are triggered by acyl radical formation from benzoic acids leading to spiro-chromanones via a direct intramolecular 6-exo-trig cyclization or spirocyclic lactams via an intermolecular addition/5-exo-trig cyclization cascade.

    • Chao Zhou
    • Andrey Shatskiy
    • Peter Dinér
    Article Open Access
  • In situ illumination of liquid-state NMR samples allows to characterise light-dependent chemical and biological phenomena, but, in practice, the position of an NMR sample deep within the bore of a spectrometer magnet renders such illumination challenging. Here, the authors demonstrate the working principles of a sample illumination device, with an LED array positioned directly at the top of special sample tube, which is inserted into the NMR spectrometer.

    • Jack E. Bramham
    • Alexander P. Golovanov
    Article Open Access
    • Aluminum–sulfur batteries have a theoretical energy density comparable to lithium–sulfur batteries, whereas aluminum is the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust and the least expensive metallic anode material to date. Here, the authors review experimental and computational approaches to tailor the chemical interactions between sulfur host materials and polysulfides in Al-S batteries and point towards promising future research directions.

      • Matthias Klimpel
      • Maksym V. Kovalenko
      • Kostiantyn V. Kravchyk
      Review Article Open Access
    • Continuously evolving computational methods are crucial to improve our understanding of the thermophysical properties of molten salts, which are experimentally hard to probe but used widely from steel manufacturing to solar power generation. Here, the authors review computational method developments from early simulations to current machine learning tools, and conclude with an outlook on the challenges molten salt simulations still pose.

      • Talmage Porter
      • Michael M. Vaka
      • Dennis Della Corte
      Review Article Open Access
    • Molecular dynamics simulations, used to study chemical and biophysical processes, rely on the accuracy of the employed force fields. Here, the authors review successes and key areas of difficulty in the development of additive and polarizable force fields, and discuss experimental data availability, how empirical refinement impacts parametrization, and highlight possible routes to further improve the accuracy of force fields.

      • Marcelo D. Polêto
      • Justin A. Lemkul
      Review Article Open Access
    • Two-dimensional colloidal nanoplatelets can assemble into materials with promising optical properties, and the influence of local curvature on these properties is an area of active interest. Here, the relationship between nanoplatelet geometry, self-assembly, and collective properties is reviewed.

      • Lilian Guillemeney
      • Laurent Lermusiaux
      • Benjamin Abécassis
      Perspective Open Access
  • It has been a great joint achievement of astronomy, laboratory spectroscopy and quantum chemistry to identify interstellar molecules in various astronomical environments and piece together their origins story from the fragmented evidence. Here the authors provide a sketch of what we know and motivate the asking of open questions on carbon-based molecules in space.

    • Christopher S. Hansen
    • Els Peeters
    • Timothy W. Schmidt
    Comment Open Access
  • Strong emergence is the main form of emergence that has been defended with respect to chemistry, and in particular molecular structure. Here, the author spells out this form of emergence, proposes new ways in which one can further explore the question of emergence, and explains why investigating emergence should be of interest not only to philosophers but to chemists as well.

    • Vanessa A. Seifert
    Comment Open Access
  • Interfacing ultrasmall metal nanoclusters (NCs) with proteins can present a dual opportunity: proteins can be used for protecting NCs, and the surface ligands of NCs may interact with proteins. Here, the authors identify and discuss remaining open questions surrounding the bio-NC interface that call for future research efforts.

    • Rodolphe Antoine
    • Dusica Maysinger
    • Vlasta Bonačić-Koutecký
    Comment Open Access
  • Tooth enamel possesses outstanding viscoelasticity as well as stiffness — a combination of properties often considered a trade-off. Now, a bi-directional freezing method affords a biomimetic composite with mechanical properties superior to those of enamel.

    • Teresa S. Ortner
    Research Highlight Open Access
  • The cluster approach is a very valuable technique for elucidating reaction mechanisms of enzymes. Here, the authors discuss the current status of this methodology, highlighting its strengths and weaknesses, and argue that it should be the method of choice for investigating enzymatic reaction mechanisms.

    • Fahmi Himo
    • Sam P. de Visser
    Comment Open Access
  • This International Women’s Day, the editors of Communications Chemistry reflect on the responsibilities that journal editors have towards promoting gender equity in STEM, and outline some of the ways in which editors can show up for women in chemistry.

    Editorial Open Access

Open Questions in Chemistry

In spite of decades of research and the enormous progress made, chemists continue to grapple with poorly understood aspects of the world around us. This collection aims to uncover open questions across the breadth of the chemical sciences. Each Comment provides an overview of a focused field of research, identifies key open questions, and gives expert opinion on how challenges in answering these questions might be overcome.
Open for submissions


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