Review Articles

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  • 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
    • Marc Vendrell
    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
    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
    • Hua Zhang
    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
    • Wenxin Wang
    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
    • Manfred Wuhrer
    Review Article
  • Microorganisms enzymatically degrade natural polymers and synthetic plastics to enable a sustainable environment. This Review describes common features of these enzymes and how they can be harnessed to convert waste into useful precursors.

    • Chun-Chi Chen
    • Longhai Dai
    • Rey-Ting Guo
    Review Article
  • In this Review, the authors describe single-cell protein analysis technologies and assess their advantages and limitations. The emerging technologies presented have the potential to reveal new insights into tumour heterogeneity and therapeutic resistance, elucidate mechanisms of immune response and immunotherapy, and accelerate drug discovery.

    • Mahmoud Labib
    • Shana O. Kelley
    Review Article
  • Organic materials can serve as sustainable electrodes in lithium batteries. This Review describes the desirable characteristics of organic electrodes and the corresponding batteries and how we should evaluate them in terms of performance, cost and sustainability.

    • Yong Lu
    • Jun Chen
    Review Article
  • Macrocyclic peptides have great potential in drug discovery because they occupy unique chemical space between small molecules and biologics and could, thus, be useful against previously undruggable targets. This Review describes the methods for generating libraries of genetically encoded cyclic peptides and highlights how each is suited to different screening approaches.

    • Catrin Sohrabi
    • Andrew Foster
    • Ali Tavassoli
    Review Article
  • Many present and emerging electronic devices make use of organic semiconductors in view of their readily tuneable molecular and electronic structures. This Review describes the importance of analytical and computational tools in studying the molecules as well as their hierarchical self-assemblies, in which the motion of charges and excited states govern device properties.

    • Hugo Bronstein
    • Christian B. Nielsen
    • Iain McCulloch
    Review Article
  • Beginning with a historical retrospective, this Review highlights the progress from thermodynamically and kinetically controlled self-assembly processes towards seed-induced living supramolecular polymerization, which allows the formation of highly ordered, functional materials such as supramolecular block copolymers.

    • Marius Wehner
    • Frank Würthner
    Review Article
  • A light-driven enzyme that oxidizes H2O, photosystem II has inspired a wealth of solar fuels research and is used directly in semi-artificial photosynthesis. This Review describes the photosystem–electrode interface, as well as state-of-the-art electrode and biohybrid cell designs, and their importance in bio-photoelectrochemistry and semi-artificial photosynthesis.

    • Jenny Z. Zhang
    • Erwin Reisner
    Review Article
  • The direct functionalization of RNA by selective acylation at the 2′-hydroxyl position is a powerful tool for structural and functional studies. This Review describes the chemical properties and design of effective acylating reagents, highlighting the various applications of RNA acylation.

    • Willem A. Velema
    • Eric T. Kool
    Review Article
  • Enzyme designers can exploit catalytic promiscuity to unlock activities unknown to nature. This Review discusses how repurposing versatile reaction intermediates and creating new ones installs abiological activities into existing, designed and hybrid enzymes, and how directed-evolution strategies readily improve catalysts for these new-to-nature activities.

    • Reuben B. Leveson-Gower
    • Clemens Mayer
    • Gerard Roelfes
    Review Article
  • Cycloparaphenylenes are highly tunable molecular scaffolds. This Review highlights how their cyclic topologies endow them with novel properties amenable to diverse applications.

    • Erik J. Leonhardt
    • Ramesh Jasti
    Review Article
  • Achieving precise control over when and where a chemical reaction takes place can open the way to a plethora of new applications. This Review gives an overview of progress made in this quest for high spatial and temporal molecular control.

    • Sidonie Aubert
    • Marine Bezagu
    • Stellios Arseniyadis
    Review Article
  • The propensity of guanine and its derivatives to assemble into guanine quartets makes them a privileged tool in the design of functional supramolecular assemblies. This Review describes the production of such functional suprastructures and their applications in nanotechnology, soft matter and chemical biology.

    • Loic Stefan
    • David Monchaud
    Review Article
  • Liquid-phase electron microscopy is a powerful method for the direct, real-time monitoring of chemical processes on nanometre and micrometre scales. This Review describes the liquid-phase electron-microscopy techniques available to us and their application to studying chemical processes.

    • Alexey S. Kashin
    • Valentine P. Ananikov
    Review Article