Latest Reviews

  • Review Article |

    Correlated disorder drives a variety of important and useful physical properties in crystalline materials. This Review explores the link between disorder and function, and surveys the core design principles that enable targeted control over correlated disorder in crystals.

    • Arkadiy Simonov
    •  & Andrew L. Goodwin
  • Review Article |

    Demand for energy-dense electrochemical storage systems has drawn increasing focus to metal–gas batteries. This Review describes the chemistry of these batteries and the underlying trade-offs between energy density and electrochemical reversibility.

    • Haining Gao
    •  & Betar M. Gallant
  • Perspective |

    Affinity selection-mass spectrometry enables rapid screening of compound mixtures against a specific biomolecular target. This assay lets us identify ligands irrespective of their binding site and is amenable to the discovery of novel drugs.

    • Renaud Prudent
    • , D. Allen Annis
    • , Peter J. Dandliker
    • , Jean-Yves Ortholand
    •  & Didier Roche
  • Perspective |

    Bimetallic complexes are fertile territory for investigating metal–metal cooperativity. This Perspective highlights how complexes with two proximal metals have tunable features of relevance to bond activation, catalysis and unprecedented reactivity.

    • Jesús Campos
  • Review Article |

    This Review details the use of enantioenriched organometallic nucleophiles in stereospecific, Pd-catalysed cross-coupling reactions. Particular focus is placed on the stereochemical outcome of the coupling reactions, which enable the predictable manipulation of 3D molecular structure.

    • Xinghua Ma
    • , Benjamin Murray
    •  & Mark R. Biscoe
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
    • , Xiao Zhang
    • , Zhanxi Fan
    • , Qiyuan He
    • , Chaoliang Tan
    •  & 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
    • , Jing Lyu
    • , Sigen A
    • , Qian Xu
    • , Ben Newland
    • , Krzysztof Matyjaszewski
    • , Hongyun Tai
    •  & 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
    • , John Cipollo
    •  & Manfred Wuhrer
  • Perspective |

    High-resolution mass spectrometry has unrivalled power to analyse individual components of ensembles, rather than ensembles as a whole. This Perspective describes recent advances in the mass spectrometry of synthetic polymers, as well as the limitations of present methods and possible strategies to overcome them.

    • Kevin De Bruycker
    • , Alexander Welle
    • , Sabine Hirth
    • , Stephen J. Blanksby
    •  & Christopher Barner-Kowollik
  • 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
    • , Lixin Ma
    •  & Rey-Ting Guo
  • Perspective |

    Hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis involves enzymatic conversion of carbon dioxide to methane. This Perspective describes the reactions at play, with a particular focus on how [Fe]-hydrogenase cleaves dihydrogen and delivers hydride to an organic substrate.

    • Gangfeng Huang
    • , Tristan Wagner
    • , Ulrich Ermler
    •  & Seigo Shima
  • 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
  • Perspective |

    A hollow multishell structure can feature voids between porous shells that allow it to controllably release multiple guests or play host to cascade reactions. This Perspective describes host–guest chemistry and the temporal–spatial ordering and dynamic responses of multishell structures to their environment.

    • Jiangyan Wang
    • , Jiawei Wan
    • , Nailiang Yang
    • , Quan Li
    •  & Dan Wang
  • 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
  • Perspective |

    The rules of biological reproduction and evolution may seem to, at first glance, conflict with simple physico-chemical principles. This Perspective identifies the constraints that must be placed on chemical processes in order for them to mimic natural selection seen in biology.

    • Grégoire Danger
    • , Louis Le Sergeant d’Hendecourt
    •  & Robert Pascal
  • 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
    • , Bob C. Schroeder
    •  & 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
  • Perspective |

    Silylium ions are highly reactive, strongly Lewis acidic and have historically been tricky to isolate. This Perspective highlights the range of methods available for their preparation and the latest examples of their use as catalysts or reagents in organic synthesis.

    • Johannes C. L. Walker
    • , Hendrik F. T. Klare
    •  & Martin Oestreich
  • 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
  • Perspective |

    In this Perspective, recent advances in measuring rates of elementary reactions at model catalyst surfaces are presented. A recent ion-imaging-based technique — velocity-resolved kinetics — is discussed in the context of a typical surface reaction, CO oxidation on Pt.

    • G. Barratt Park
    • , Theofanis N. Kitsopoulos
    • , Dmitriy Borodin
    • , Kai Golibrzuch
    • , Jannis Neugebohren
    • , Daniel J. Auerbach
    • , Charles T. Campbell
    •  & Alec M. Wodtke
  • 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
    • , Alan C. Spivey
    •  & Stellios Arseniyadis