Browse Articles

  • Review Article |

    The self-assembly of biomimetic peptides can mimic complex natural systems involving whole proteins. This Review describes how synthetic peptides afford tunable scaffolds for biomineralization, drug delivery and tissue growth.

    • Aviad Levin
    • , Tuuli A. Hakala
    • , Lee Schnaider
    • , Gonçalo J. L. Bernardes
    • , Ehud Gazit
    •  & Tuomas P. J. Knowles
  • Review Article |

    High pressure leads to striking new chemistry. Many new compounds with atypical compositions and a plethora of novel chemical species can be stabilized by the formation of homonuclear bonds and the activation of core electrons, non-valence and non-atomic orbitals.

    • Maosheng Miao
    • , Yuanhui Sun
    • , Eva Zurek
    •  & Haiqing Lin
  • Research Highlight |

    Single-molecule conductance measurements enable different conformers of cyclohexane to be observed at room temperature.

    • Stephen G. Davey
  • Perspective |

    This Perspective discusses the prospects of assembling multiple molecular machines within ordered frameworks, with the goal of producing artificial molecular factories in which molecular motions are coupled, synchronized and amplified across multiple length scales, leading to robust and stimuli-responsive solids.

    • Simon Krause
    •  & Ben L. Feringa
  • Research Highlight |

    Spectroscopy reveals the speciation of a merocyanine photoacid that serves as a light-sensitive pH switch.

    • David Schilter
  • Research Highlight |

    The formation of nanobubbles can limit the efficiency of nanoelectrodes. Molecular simulations can provide important physical insights on the nanobubble nucleation process that results in the current insensitivity to applied potential.

    • Gabriella Graziano
  • Research Highlight |

    Two templates can stack together to enable the formation of a large macrocycle, providing they bind cooperatively to the target. The approach may enable the synthesis of very large macrocycles using relatively simple templates.

    • Stephen G. Davey
  • Research Highlight |

    The fast and non-adiabatic nature of photoinduced isomerization reactions makes it difficult to pin down their mechanisms. Time-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy using high energy photons and simulations can elucidate the mechanism of the ultrafast ring opening of thiophenone molecules in the gas phase.

    • Gabriella Graziano
  • Comment |

    As the world erupts with demands for racial justice, the chemistry community has the obligation, opportunity and momentum to drive for diversity and inclusion in the sciences. Efforts towards that end must begin by allocating opportunities for success on the basis of potential, not privilege, and follow through by soliciting and acting upon feedback from the scholars we have recruited.

    • Brea A. Manuel
    •  & Diane B. Karloff
  • Perspective |

    Iron–sulfur enzymes catalyse multielectron redox reactions in nature. This Perspective describes the in vitro methodologies by which we study these enzyme biosyntheses and compares the way in which different active sites are constructed.

    • R. David Britt
    • , Guodong Rao
    •  & Lizhi Tao
  • Review Article |

    Tagging and manipulating biomolecules in living systems requires precisely tuned, biocompatible reactions. This Review focuses on recent advances in the development of bioorthogonal reactions, with an emphasis on how mechanistic insights have driven the field.

    • Sean S. Nguyen
    •  & Jennifer A. Prescher
  • Review Article |

    Although amino acid repeats have been linked to a diverse range of diseases, they are prevalent in the human proteome. This Review describes their physiological importance, the factors that influence their conformations and therapeutic strategies to treat repeat-related diseases.

    • Sreenivas Chavali
    • , Anjali K. Singh
    • , Balaji Santhanam
    •  & M. Madan Babu
  • Review Article |

    Enhanced chemical reactivity on-water has major implications in many fields, ranging from atmospheric to prebiotic chemistry. This Review analyses recent experimental and theoretical studies in this fast-moving research area and brings together some key findings across diverse fields.

    • Manuel F. Ruiz-Lopez
    • , Joseph S. Francisco
    • , Marilia T. C. Martins-Costa
    •  & Josep M. Anglada
  • Review Article |

    RNA-binding proteins have crucial roles in cellular activities, and disruption of their function is associated with human diseases. This Review describes inhibition of RNA-binding proteins using small molecules as a rapidly evolving strategy for the discovery of chemical probes and therapeutics.

    • Peng Wu
  • Research Highlight |

    Vibronic coherences can guide a synthetic control of the lifetime of the excited states in iron(ii)-based complexes.

    • Gabriella Graziano
  • Perspective |

    Molecular design and synthesis, from small molecules to supramolecular assemblies, combined with new spectroscopic probes of quantum coherence and theoretical modelling, offer a broad range of possibilities to realize practical quantum information science applications in computing, communications and sensing.

    • Michael R. Wasielewski
    • , Malcolm D. E. Forbes
    • , Natia L. Frank
    • , Karol Kowalski
    • , Gregory D. Scholes
    • , Joel Yuen-Zhou
    • , Marc A. Baldo
    • , Danna E. Freedman
    • , Randall H. Goldsmith
    • , Theodore Goodson III
    • , Martin L. Kirk
    • , James K. McCusker
    • , Jennifer P. Ogilvie
    • , David A. Shultz
    • , Stefan Stoll
    •  & K. Birgitta Whaley
  • Research Highlight |

    Experimental models show that through-space effects dominate over through-bond effects when considering the influence of so-called electron-withdrawing or electron-donating substituents on molecular conformation and reactivity.

    • Stephen G. Davey
  • Review Article |

    High-valent metal–oxo species are implicated in biological and industrially important oxidations. This Review describes mononuclear iron and manganese oxos, the nature of the ‘oxo wall’ and recent advances in late-transition-metal–oxo complexes.

    • Virginia A. Larson
    • , Beatrice Battistella
    • , Kallol Ray
    • , Nicolai Lehnert
    •  & Wonwoo Nam
  • Review Article |

    Self-replicating systems play a central role in the emergence of life. This Review describes the features that self-replicating systems need to acquire to transition from chemistry to biology and surveys the progress made in theoretical and experimental approaches.

    • Paul Adamski
    • , Marcel Eleveld
    • , Ankush Sood
    • , Ádám Kun
    • , András Szilágyi
    • , Tamás Czárán
    • , Eörs Szathmáry
    •  & Sijbren Otto
  • Perspective |

    As the International Year of the Periodic Table came to an end in 2019, the authors reflect on the chemistry and physics that drive the periodic table of the elements. This includes aspects of periodic trends, relativistic electronic-structure theory, nuclear-structure theory and the astrophysical origin of the elements.

    • Peter Schwerdtfeger
    • , Odile R. Smits
    •  & Pekka Pyykkö
  • Research Highlight |

    Abiotic sources of H2 in the lithosphere outweigh the sinks, with the balance potentially being available to a large microbial community.

    • David Schilter
  • Research Highlight |

    Although they are generally poor coupling agents under palladium catalysis, germanes are easily cross-coupled under gold catalysis, enabling a new orthogonal cross-coupling reaction.

    • Stephen G. Davey
  • Perspective |

    Machine-learning techniques have enabled, among many other applications, the exploration of molecular properties throughout chemical space. The specific development of quantum-based approaches in machine learning can now help us unravel new chemical insights.

    • O. Anatole von Lilienfeld
    • , Klaus-Robert Müller
    •  & Alexandre Tkatchenko
  • Research Highlight |

    Despite their similarity with surfactants, the mechanism by which hydrotropes assist in solubilizing apolar molecules in water is not totally understood. A mechanism is now proposed that identifies apolar interactions as driving forces of hydrotropy, in agreement with a statistical thermodynamic picture.

    • Gabriella Graziano
  • Review Article |

    Discovery and application of enzymes that catalyse new reactions is essential for broad implementation of biocatalysts in organic synthesis. This Review describes recent developments in biocatalytic carbon–carbon bond formation.

    • Lara E. Zetzsche
    •  & Alison R. H. Narayan
  • Research Highlight |

    One can combine two distinct chain-transfer agents to tune the dispersity of vinyl polymers. The polymer chains remain living and can be transformed into diblock copolymers.

    • David Schilter
  • Review Article |

    Deconstructing plant-derived polymers into small molecules is necessary for biomass valorization but gives intermediates that undergo undesirable reactions. This Review describes how the intermediates can be converted into stable derivatives as renewable-platform chemicals.

    • Ydna M. Questell-Santiago
    • , Maxim V. Galkin
    • , Katalin Barta
    •  & Jeremy S. Luterbacher
  • Research Highlight |

    An unexpected epoxide deoxygenation reaction was observed to occur with inversion of stereochemistry and has enabled development of a method for alkene isomerization.

    • Stephen G. Davey
  • Review Article |

    Fluorescent amino acids are widely used as building blocks for non-perturbative labelling of peptides and proteins. This Review covers recent advances in the design and synthesis of fluorescent amino acids with bespoke optical properties for different applications in biological studies.

    • Zhiming Cheng
    • , Erkin Kuru
    • , Amit Sachdeva
    •  & Marc Vendrell
  • Editorial |

    Sample preparation and instrumentation for macromolecular mass spectrometry continue to evolve, making the technique more relevant than ever.

  • Research Highlight |

    Uncharged polymers on the surface of charged colloidal particles can help to control their self-assembly into ordered structures.

    • Gabriella Graziano
  • Review Article |

    Helices have unique properties, exploited by nature in critical functional roles. This Review gives an overview of the application of synthetic helical polymers in biology and medicine, highlighting examples where the role of the helical conformation has been critical.

    • Thomas Leigh
    •  & Paco Fernandez-Trillo
  • Research Highlight |

    A persistent silylene complex of CO is reminiscent of metal carbonyls and features interesting bonding interactions.

    • David Schilter
  • Books & Arts |

    A new book by Peter Wothers delves into the tumultuous history of naming (and symbolizing) the elements.

    • Brett F. Thornton
  • Research Highlight |

    Anions can act as efficient templates for the formation of macrocyclic peptides.

    • Stephen G. Davey
  • Books & Arts |

    An autobiography by Martin Karplus, from his childhood and continuing right through to a journey to Stockholm to receive the 2013 Nobel prize.

    • Alfred C. Chin
  • Research Highlight |

    Machine learning approaches that attempt to predict the outcome of organic reactions are often complex or highly specialized. A new approach requires the molecular structure of reactants as the only input to predict products, enantioselectivities and yields.

    • Gabriella Graziano
  • Review Article |

    Properties of nanomaterials respond to changes in the material’s phase, as well as changes in size, composition and morphology. This Review discusses the most recent developments in phase engineering of nanomaterials to afford conventional and unconventional crystal phases, amorphous phases and amorphous–crystalline heterophases.

    • Ye Chen
    • , Zhuangchai Lai
    • , Xiao Zhang
    • , Zhanxi Fan
    • , Qiyuan He
    • , Chaoliang Tan
    •  & Hua Zhang
  • Research Highlight |

    Ethylene is a plant hormone that has proved difficult to measure. A new catalytic chemiresistor senses ethylene in the parts per billion regime and can monitor plant senescence.

    • David Schilter
  • Research Highlight |

    A rod-shaped molecular motor constructed from DNA rolls in a straight line across an RNA-functionalized surface.

    • Stephen G. Davey
  • Review Article |

    During free-radical polymerization of multivinyl monomers, the regulation of intermolecular crosslinking and intramolecular cyclization enables the construction of complex polymer architectures. This Review summarizes methods to achieve this control and techniques to analyse the sub-chain connections. Finally, it discusses exemplary biomedical applications of the complex polymer products.

    • Yongsheng Gao
    • , Dezhong Zhou
    • , Jing Lyu
    • , Sigen A
    • , Qian Xu
    • , Ben Newland
    • , Krzysztof Matyjaszewski
    • , Hongyun Tai
    •  & Wenxin Wang
  • Research Highlight |

    Decoherence in quantum systems compromises the quantum information processing. However, in molecular systems, coherence is not completely lost and residual coherence can provide important information to guide the design of efficient molecular qubits.

    • Gabriella Graziano
  • Review Article |

    Sialic acids are a heterogeneous group of monosaccharides that play key roles in human glycobiology. This Review describes derivatization strategies that allow the straightforward analysis of sialic acid linkage isomers by mass spectrometry and exemplifies their use for biological samples.

    • Noortje de Haan
    • , Shuang Yang
    • , John Cipollo
    •  & Manfred Wuhrer
  • Research Highlight |

    Air-stable nickel precatalysts enable one to rapidly screen ligands, organic substrates and conditions in an accessible and scalable fashion. The best method can be identified and translated to an industrial setting.

    • David Schilter