Reviews & Analysis

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  • Organochlorides are attractive building blocks for photocatalytic synthesis that have been receiving increasing attention lately, thanks to recent methodological advances that overcome their inertness. In this Review Article, Giedyk and colleagues summarise the developments and strategies for their photocatalytic activation.

    • Martyna Cybularczyk-Cecotka
    • Joanna Szczepanik
    • Maciej Giedyk
    Review Article
  • The electro- and photo-catalytic reduction of carbon dioxide are important processes in the context of developing a sustainable carbon-neutral economy. In this Review Article, the authors discuss how the local chemical environment in the proximity of the catalytic active site can influence the reactivity and selectivity of the processes and detail different approaches to achieve their modulation.

    • Andreas Wagner
    • Constantin D. Sahm
    • Erwin Reisner
    Review Article
  • 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
    News & Views
  • Peroxygenases are promising enzymes to contribute to more environmentally friendly and sustainable oxidation reactions in industry. This Review Article gives a comprehensive overview about enzymes with peroxygenase activity and strategies to engineer them for desired reactions and enhanced performances.

    • Marie-Cathérine Sigmund
    • Gerrit J. Poelarends
    Review Article
  • 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
    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
    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
  • Radical S-adenosyl-l-methionine enzymes catalyse challenging chemical reactions, showing potential for biotechnological applications. This Review focuses on enzyme structure–function relationships, providing insights on how these biocatalysts perform different reactions and control the reactive radical species.

    • Yvain Nicolet
    Review Article
  • 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
    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
    News & Views
  • Synthetic chemical processes often do not operate at sustainable or mild conditions—in contrast with natural complex reaction networks. This Perspective provides a roadmap for bio-inspired integrated catalytic systems for chemical manufacturing, sketching a biologically based future of industrial catalysis.

    • Simon Burgener
    • Shanshan Luo
    • Tobias J. Erb
  • Artificial photosynthetic technologies could potentially contribute to limiting global warming while providing useful chemicals for society. This Review Article covers photosynthetic semiconductor biohybrids—electrodes/nanomaterials coupled with microorganisms—for light-driven catalytic conversion of CO2 to fuels and other value-added chemicals.

    • Stefano Cestellos-Blanco
    • Hao Zhang
    • Peidong Yang
    Review Article
  • Spatial organization of biocatalytic cascades can improve their performance. In this Review Article, Itamar Willner and colleagues discuss technologies to artificially confine and localize enzyme cascades, the origin of observed rate enhancements and potential applications of such designed systems.

    • Margarita Vázquez-González
    • Chen Wang
    • Itamar Willner
    Review Article
  • 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
    News & Views