News & Comment

  • Editorial |

    On the threshold of the New Year we think back to the past 12 months and provide a few highlights.

  • News & Views |

    Atomically dispersed and nitrogen-coordinated single iron site catalysts hold great promise to replace platinum for proton-exchange membrane fuel cells, but they suffer from significant performance loss. Now, solving the conundrum to distinguish durable and non-durable FeN4 active sites can guide high-performance catalyst design.

    • Shengwen Liu
    • , Qiurong Shi
    •  & Gang Wu
  • News & Views |

    Electrochemical CO2 conversion to hydrocarbons has increasingly improved with the development of better catalysts. Now, a copper catalyst modified with a polymer boosts the selectivity for ethylene production to 87%.

    • Enrico Andreoli
  • News & Views |

    Despite over a century of research to understand heterogeneous electrocatalysis, the precise mechanisms of action remain poorly understood. Now, it is proposed that the oxygen evolution reaction on IrOx is driven by changes in the redox state of the Ir–O active sites, rather than by changes in the interfacial electric field.

    • Shannon W. Boettcher
    •  & Yogesh Surendranath
  • Editorial |

    The use of a bibliography in scientific literature has evolved over time. Here, we look at its history and the roles it plays in contemporary science.

  • News & Views |

    Nickel–iron and cobalt–iron (oxy)hydroxides are state-of-the-art electrocatalysts for oxygen production in alkaline conditions. Now, the addition of high-valent dopants has been demonstrated to further propel the catalytic rate in these materials by an order of magnitude.

    • Michael John Craig
    •  & Max García-Melchor
  • Comment |

    The Fischer–Tropsch product, water, is regularly hypothesized to be the driving force for catalyst deactivation. Cobalt nanoparticles may be oxidized to CoO, form mixed-metal oxides with supports, or sinter to larger particles. This Comment discusses the feasibility of these deactivation pathways, highlighting the importance of in situ characterization.

    • Moritz Wolf
    • , Nico Fischer
    •  & Michael Claeys
  • News & Views |

    DNA-based dynamic networks show adaptation to external stimuli toward the generation of the fittest constituent. This selection principle has now been implemented to control the catalytic efficiency of an enzymatic reaction.

    • Lena J. Winat
    •  & Barbara Saccà
  • News & Views |

    Enhancing the oxygen exchange rate at the surface of oxides through rational design has long been a key goal of researchers pursuing sustainable energy solutions. Now, a simple infiltration method reveals that reaction rates on porous mixed-conducting oxides scale with the acidity of the infiltrate and can be tuned by orders of magnitude.

    • Sossina M. Haile
  • News & Views |

    The development of feasible routes for the valorization of waste plastics is an urgent challenge to be solved. Now, a strategy is introduced for the selective production of hydrogen-rich gas and multi-walled carbon nanotubes in a single-step process using an FeAlOx catalyst and microwave irradiation.

    • Gartzen Lopez
    •  & Laura Santamaria
  • Editorial |

    We provide herein an overview of the present issue while introducing two new features that complement our submission and publication process.

  • Comment |

    Considerable research achievements were made to address the plastic crisis using biotechnology, but this is still limited to polyesters. This Comment aims to clarify important aspects related to myths and realities about plastic biodegradation and suggests distinct strategies for a bio-based circular plastic economy in the future.

    • Ren Wei
    • , Till Tiso
    • , Jürgen Bertling
    • , Kevin O’Connor
    • , Lars M. Blank
    •  & Uwe T. Bornscheuer
  • News & Views |

    The activity and the stability of an electrocatalyst are equally important, but the reasons behind deactivation processes still remain unresolved. Achieving a deeper understanding of the process will help to inhibit deactivation and improve revivification protocols.

    • Alessandro Minguzzi
  • Comment |

    Two different types of H2O2 selectivity are reported for the electrochemical synthesis of H2O2: molar fraction selectivity and Faradaic selectivity. Here we revisit their definitions and discuss the best way to report H2O2 selectivity, which can help to avoid misunderstandings or unfair performance comparisons in this growing field.

    • Chuan Xia
    • , Jung Yoon (Timothy) Kim
    •  & Haotian Wang
  • News & Views |

    Suppressing the degradation of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells due to anode side-reactions during repetitive cell start-up/shut-down remains a formidable challenge. Now, a phase transition material of WO3 has been explored as a smart catalytic switch to enable highly selective electrocatalysis and improve fuel cell longevity.

    • Yifei Sun
    •  & Shriram Ramanathan
  • News & Views |

    Polyketide synthases are multi-domain enzymes that catalyse the construction of many bioactive natural products. Now, some of the inefficiencies and limitations of these systems have been solved by designing an artificial pathway for carbon–carbon bond formation via iterative rounds of non-decarboxylative thio-Claisen reactions.

    • Anuran K. Gayen
    • , Lindsay Nichols
    •  & Gavin J. Williams
  • Editorial |

    Reporting data according to standards accepted by the community is fundamental to the progress of science. In the broad area of catalysis, best practice principles are well consolidated in some subfields, but they are still developing in others.

  • News & Views |

    Macrocyclic peptide natural products are important medicinal compounds. The catalytic properties of an unusual peptide cyclase enzyme have recently been described — providing opportunities for the engineering and synthesis of structurally complex peptides with novel biological activities.

    • Mohamed A. Attia
    •  & Christopher J. Thibodeaux
  • News & Views |

    Catalysts are the heart of CO2 electroreduction technology. Now, a catalyst has been developed that converts CO2 into C2+ products with very high selectivity, stability, and energy efficiency at industrially relevant current densities.

    • Cao-Thang Dinh
  • News & Views |

    A rapid and efficient electrochemical reaction requires active catalytic material, as well as proper electrode and cell design. Now, a gas diffusion electrode based on a stainless steel cloth successfully overcomes gas transport limitations for high-current ammonia electrosynthesis in non-aqueous solvents at ambient conditions.

    • Claudio Ampelli
  • Editorial |

    The severity of the COVID-19 emergency has forced society to adopt drastic containment measures. In this Editorial we discuss some of their implications for the publishing sector and for our journal.

  • News & Views |

    The chemoenzymatic potential for the construction of complex chiral molecules has not been fully explored. Now, Candida antarctica lipase B has been used to synthesize complex functionalized planar chiral macrocycles, providing a platform for the efficient and sustainable preparation of molecules that are of particular interest in drug discovery.

    • Jose M. Palomo
  • News & Views |

    Understanding the surface structure of a catalyst under a reaction environment is challenging, yet necessary. Now, a combination of in situ methods reveals the reversible formation of a surface alloy as the active phase for core–shell Ni–Au nanoparticles during CO2 hydrogenation, which could not be detected by ex situ methods.

    • Rongming Wang
  • Editorial |

    Action for a more sustainable society must be taken — calling for advances in technology. This Insight features artificial biocatalytic systems and functions not found in nature and emphasizes their potential to address major challenges faced by humankind, such as climate change.

  • Comment |

    Humankind faces many challenges to continue social and technological development in a sustainable manner. This Comment elaborates how increasing the synthetic capacity of biocatalytic systems can contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

    • Kristala L. J. Prather
  • News & Views |

    The introduction of single abiological catalytic groups enables enzymes to catalyse new-to-nature chemical transformations. Now, this concept is extended to two abiological groups in a single protein scaffold to allow synergistic catalysis in a stereoselective Michael addition reaction.

    • Xinkun Ren
    •  & Rudi Fasan
  • Editorial |

    Europe is following in the steps of Japan and California towards the implementation of fuel cell vehicles. We revisit the current state of affairs in Europe while one of its flagship projects is nearing its end.

  • News & Views |

    Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful oxidizing agent with many applications. Now, a method is presented to generate it from the oxidation of water on a polytetrafluoroethylene-coated glassy carbon electrode with high efficiency.

    • Carlos Ponce de León
  • News & Views |

    Identifying the rate-determining step (RDS) for oxygen incorporation into mixed ionic and electronic conducting electrodes is very challenging, particularly since the local composition changes during the reaction. Now, a generally applicable method for identifying the RDS is presented, with the example of a Pr0.1Ce0.9O2–x electrode.

    • Ellen Wachtel
    •  & Igor Lubomirsky
  • Editorial |

    As Nature Catalysis starts its third year, we look back and the past 12 months.

  • News & Views |

    The electrochemical synthesis of high-value chemicals is still far from industrial application, mostly due to the lack of stable and efficient catalysts. Now evidence reveals that gaining a fundamental understanding of an electrochemical reaction can lead to faster development of optimal catalytic materials.

    • Marta C. Figueiredo
  • News & Views |

    Intensified interest in the area of nickel catalysis has driven the quest for an air-stable and modular Ni(0) precatalyst. Now, an air-stable Ni(0)-olefin precatalyst allows for the convenient set-up of nickel-catalysed reactions on the benchtop.

    • Timothy B. Boit
    • , Katie A. Spence
    •  & Neil K. Garg