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  • The current production of bulk chemicals often requires constant high temperatures. Now, Joule heating using electricity can be harnessed by imposing temperature modulation on reactions. By optimizing timescales, reaction selectivity and catalyst stability is improved.

    • Guy B. Marin
    • Kevin M. Van Geem
    News & Views
  • By combining the link of a catenane with the interweaving of a trefoil knot, a molecular structure with a double knot-link containing 14 crossings is prepared. The knot-link contains two homochiral trefoil knots that are quadruply linked with each other.

    • Edward E. Fenlon
    News & Views
  • Scalable and efficient chemical recycling of commodity polymeric materials remains a challenge as the materials continually accumulate in the environment. Now, upcycling of polystyrene into benzoic acid and other value-added chemicals is realized under mild photooxidation conditions, with hydrogen atom transfer as the key step.

    • Mizhi Xu
    • Will R. Gutekunst
    News & Views
  • Nickel-catalysed cross-electrophile coupling (XEC) is a useful reaction in synthetic organic chemistry. Now, a nickel-catalysed electrochemical XEC reaction mediated by dynamic ligand exchange enables the formation of a C(sp2)–C(sp3) bond between tertiary alkyl bromides and aryl (pseudo)halides.

    • Huan-Ming Huang
    News & Views
  • The synthesis of phosphorus-rich analogues of carbon-based compounds is a desirable but challenging endeavour. Now, the synthesis of the anion [Fe(P4)2]2– is reported, which so far is the most similar all-phosphorus relative to well-known ferrocene, [Fe(η5-C5H5)2].

    • Toni Grell
    • Evamarie Hey-Hawkins
    News & Views
  • Aminoglycosides are an important class of potent antibiotics; however traditional synthetic approaches are lengthy and often rely on enzyme-based routes. Now, a formal enantioselective copper-catalysed hydroamination of benzene enables the total synthesis of the antibiotic (+)-ribostamycin in ten linear steps.

    • Danniel K. Arriaga
    • Andy A. Thomas
    News & Views
  • Converting simple building blocks into enantiopure amines is an important synthetic transformation. Now, a biocatalyst has been discovered that catalyses two reductive steps within a single active site, and can synthesize a range of amine targets from ene–one starting materials.

    • Michael A. Herrera
    • Dominic J. Campopiano
    News & Views
  • The Kolbe electrolysis is a transformation renowned for forging C(sp3)–C(sp3) bonds. However, it is challenging to selectively make cross-products — that is, form new bonds from different partners — using this reaction. Now, a nickel-catalysed ‘reductive Kolbe’ reaction enables a decarboxylative cross-coupling approach.

    • Sheng Zhang
    • Michael Findlater
    News & Views
  • Using a bottom-up synthetic method, an all sp2-hybridized carbon nanobelt with a Möbius topology is prepared. The macrocyclization step is a Wittig reaction between an aldehyde and phosphorous ylide at opposite edges of a strip that induces a twist.

    • Tavis W. Price
    • Ramesh Jasti
    News & Views
  • Click chemistry is widely used in organic and materials chemistry. Now, a divergent sulfur(VI) fluoride exchange process provides access to a range of synthetically valuable vinylic and acetylenic sulfoximine products.

    • Fedor Miloserdov
    • Han Zuilhof
    News & Views
  • Heterogeneous catalysis is often plagued by incompatibility of a catalyst’s reactivity and stability. Now, covalent organic frameworks linked by reactive, yet stable, N-heterocyclic carbene precursors are synthesized and the frameworks are subsequently used as cathodes in Li–S batteries.

    • Guolong Xing
    • Long Chen
    News & Views
  • Alkyne metathesis has been used to prepare the carbon allotrope γ-graphyne, which is composed equally of sp- and sp2-hybridized carbon atoms. The carbon sheets are stacked in an ABC staggered interlayer arrangement and can be exfoliated like graphene.

    • Michael M. Haley
    News & Views
  • Aryl ethers are privileged scaffolds in contemporary drug-discovery programs. Now, employment of triplet states of aryl halides enables copper-mediated cross-coupling with various alcohols for the expedient synthesis of aryl ethers.

    • Haoyu Li
    • Shunsuke Chiba
    News & Views
  • The predictable transition-metal-catalysed cyclotrimerization of three different unsaturated substrates in a controlled selective manner is a challenge for synthetic chemists. Now, a highly selective chiral rhodium-catalysed reaction provides selective access to a range of six-membered carbocyclic rings.

    • Anna Pla-Quintana
    • Anna Roglans
    News & Views
  • The reversible formation of carbon–carbon bonds is key in many catalytic reactions but its mechanism is challenging to study. Now, a detailed investigation into a palladium-catalysed diastereoconvergent reaction uncovers a unique mechanism in which reversible β-carbon elimination is crucial for productive catalysis.

    • Hongyu Zhong
    • Bill Morandi
    News & Views
  • Ammonia synthesis is of great interest owing to its use in fertilizers and as an energy carrier. However, it is challenging to develop a low-energy catalytic process for the formation of weak N–H bonds. Now, a photocatalytic system harnesses visible light to promote ammonia formation from N2 and H2.

    • Michael T. Mock
    News & Views
  • Conversion of greenhouse gases and other pollutants to fine chemicals is a global challenge. First-row-transition-metal catalysts show promise as cost-effective tools to combat environmental impacts by managing the carbon and nitrogen cycle. Nitrogen oxyanions are experiencing renewed interest for their use as N1 feedstocks.

    • Marissa L. Clapson
    • Marcus W. Drover
    News & Views
  • Ring-forming reactions are at the heart of organic synthesis. Now, phenylene rings are synthesized from two isopropyl moieties on a gold surface. Resolving the intermediates of this (3+3) cycloaromatization reaction with atomic force microscopy offers mechanistic insight into the dimerization process.

    • Diego Peña
    • Leo Gross
    News & Views
  • ‘Solar chemical’ production can be limited by the need for sacrificial reagents, metal-containing catalysts and low product values. Now, H2O2 is generated from H2O and air using lignin as a photocatalyst. Combining lignin with enzymatic catalysis enables selective oxyfunctionalization.

    • Han Sen Soo
    News & Views