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  • The hydrogen evolution and oxidation reactions on Pt electrocatalysts exhibit much more favourable kinetics in acidic than in alkaline electrolytes. Now, by combining theoretical simulations and spectroscopic measurements, it is demonstrated that the different connectivity of hydrogen-bond networks in the electric double layer is responsible for such an effect.

    • Peng Li
    • Yaling Jiang
    • Shengli Chen
  • Copper-based catalysts are traditionally very effective for the hydrogenation of CO2 to methanol, although control over the active site has remained elusive. Here, the authors design a Cu1/ZrO2 single-atom catalyst featuring a Cu1–O3 site responsible for a remarkable performance at 180 °C.

    • Huibo Zhao
    • Ruofan Yu
    • Li Tan
  • Selective electrocatalytic conversion of nitrogen species requires control over proton and electron transfer. Here, independent optimization of the driving force for proton transfer is realized through the use of MoS2 phases with different pKas, allowing high selectivity for NO, N2O, N2 and NH4+ to be achieved by varying the applied potential.

    • Daoping He
    • Hideshi Ooka
    • Ryuhei Nakamura
  • Despite the potential of nanostructures as crop protection agents, antiviral pesticides remain essentially based on organic molecules. Now, the antiviral activity of chiral copper sulfide nanoparticles is demonstrated for the light-mediated inactivation of tobacco mosaic virus via selective protease-like hydrolysis.

    • Rui Gao
    • Liguang Xu
    • Hua Kuang
  • Seeking high efficiency in the valorization of biomass-derived feedstocks is a great challenge. Now, a linear paired electrochemical valorization of glycerol to mainly C3 oxidation products is achieved in both compartments by combining the electro-Fenton process at a NiSe2 cathode and the direct oxidation of glycerol at a Pt anode.

    • Hongyuan Sheng
    • Aurora N. Janes
    • Song Jin
  • Cyclotelomerization of isoprene can lead to many isomers and controlling the selectivity in this reaction has been challenging for chemical methods. Now, Ni-catalysed nucleophilic cyclotelomerization of isoprene with heterocycles provides cyclic monoterpene derivatives with high selectivity.

    • Gong Zhang
    • Chao-Yang Zhao
    • Qing-An Chen
  • CO can be reduced electrocatalytically on Cu-based electrodes to acetate and ethanol; however, formation of mixed product streams creates a separation issue. Here, a selective anode for ethanol partial oxidation and an anion exchange membrane with high ethanol permeability are incorporated into an electrolyser to generate pure acetate (>99%) at high concentration (up to 7.6 M).

    • Sean Overa
    • Bradie S. Crandall
    • Feng Jiao
  • Enzymes for poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) deconstruction are of interest for plastics recycling, but reports on their directed evolution are missing. Now, an automated, high-throughput directed evolution platform is described, affording HotPETase that effectively achieves depolymerization above the glass transition temperature of PET.

    • Elizabeth L. Bell
    • Ross Smithson
    • Anthony P. Green
  • Eukaryotic cytochrome P450s (P450s) are often required for the biosynthesis of natural products, but their performance in bacteria is usually reduced. Now, scaffold enzymes bring eukaryotic P450s and a reductase in close proximity for efficient electron channelling, increasing the production of natural products in Escherichia coli.

    • Seon Young Park
    • Hyunmin Eun
    • Sang Yup Lee
  • Allylic amination of unactivated alkenes with aliphatic amines is a long-standing synthetic challenge in organic chemistry. This is now accomplished in an oxidant-free, site-selective process by using a combination of a photocatalyst and cobalt complex for the coupling of olefins and alkyl amines with hydrogen evolution.

    • Shengchun Wang
    • Yiming Gao
    • Aiwen Lei
  • Conversion of CO2 to fuels or chemicals via artificial photosynthesis usually requires the assistance of organic additives or electricity. Now, a biohybrid system is reported consisting of a photocatalyst sheet and bacteria producing acetate and O2 from CO2 and H2O using sunlight as the sole energy input.

    • Qian Wang
    • Shafeer Kalathil
    • Erwin Reisner
  • Alkali metal cations influence electrocatalytic reactions, but their specific role remains elusive. Now, methyl4N+ is established as a vibrational probe for surface-enhanced infrared absorption spectroscopy, revealing that alkali metal cations specifically adsorb on Au during CO2 electroreduction and that their surface coverage depends on their free energy of hydration.

    • Vincent J. Ovalle
    • Yu-Shen Hsu
    • Matthias M. Waegele
  • The deployment of fuel cells demands more efficient electrode–electrolyte interfaces to catalyse the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). A kinetic ORR descriptor is put forward, which is related to the rate of the *O ↔ *OH transition and includes electrolyte effects via the role of non-specifically adsorbed anions.

    • Mingchuan Luo
    • Marc T. M. Koper
    Article Open Access
  • The conversions of methanol or methyl chloride over zeolite catalysts are promising processes to produce valuable hydrocarbons, but their mechanisms are still not fully understood. Now these are evaluated using operando photoelectron photoion coincidence spectroscopy, which enables the direct observation of elusive intermediates such as methyl radicals or ketene.

    • Alessia Cesarini
    • Sharon Mitchell
    • Javier Pérez-Ramírez
    Article Open Access