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  • The Paternò–Büchi reaction is a useful approach in organic synthesis to prepare oxetanes. Understanding the mechanism of this reaction is required for the prediction and control of the diastereoselectivity of the products.

    • Norbert Hoffmann
    News & Views
  • A polymerization strategy — termed CAMMP — combines two types of olefin metathesis monomers to produce degradable copolymers without sacrificing the mechanical properties of the equivalent homopolymer.

    • Courtney M. Leo
    • Justin G. Kennemur
    News & Views
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is challenging to recycle owing to the formation of hydrochloric acid during depolymerization at high temperatures. Now, a method for upcycling PVC that relies on its intrinsic reactivity in a low-intensity electrochemical process is reported, which can be exploited to chlorinate arenes.

    • Brett A. Helms
    News & Views
  • Controllable cleavage and conversion of strong C(sp3)–H bonds remains a challenging task in organic synthesis. Here, a reaction design combining hydrogen atom transfer and copper catalysis is developed which allows enantioselective alkene difunctionalization using aliphatic C–H bond activation.

    • Lei Gong
    News & Views
  • Chiral tetrahedral carbon atoms bearing functional groups amenable to functionalization offer numerous synthetic opportunities. Catalysed by copper pyridine-bis(oxazoline) complexes, the developed alkynylallylic substitution provides 3-substituted 1,4-enynes with excellent regio- and stereocontrol.

    • Jan H. van Maarseveen
    News & Views
  • Inverse vulcanization uses high temperatures to form sulfur-rich polymers. Now, using a photoinduced method, polymerization occurs at ambient conditions enabling a broader selection of viable comonomers compared with existing routes, as well as eliminating the formation of toxic gas.

    • Jaclyn Dunn
    • Courtney L. Jenkins
    News & Views
  • Atomically thin materials have exciting physicochemical properties but multi-element and non-layered 2D materials are difficult to prepare by conventional methods. Now, a flux-assisted method is reported, enabling the synthesis of such 2D materials by confining reaction space.

    • Hyeonkyeong Kim
    • Youngdong Yoo
    News & Views
  • Methods for electrochemical recycling of microplastic waste to value-added products are extremely sought-after. Here, a tandem photoelectrochemical-bioelectrocatalytic approach converts microplastics to chemical fuels and uses the microplastics as an electron source for electrochemical transformations.

    • Dylan G. Boucher
    • Shelley D. Minteer
    News & Views
  • β-Hydride and β-heteroatom eliminations are competitive processes in many Pd-catalysed reactions but general strategies for controlling this selectivity have not been established. Now, a mechanistic study of Pd-alkyl complexes demonstrates that the choice of phosphine ligands and leaving groups controls selectivity.

    • Ming-Hsiu Yang
    • Ryan A. Altman
    News & Views
  • Bifunctional catalysts containing metal and acid sites are used industrially in alkane hydroconversion. Now, the nanoscale spatial separation of the two active sites is shown to promote hydroisomerization and inspires design principles for this type of catalyst.

    • Si-Ming Wu
    • Jiří Čejka
    • Xiao-Yu Yang
    News & Views
  • Heteroepitaxial growth of single-crystal films typically requires stringent matching of the specific lattice ordering with the underlying substrate. Now, amorphous MoTe2 thin films are shown to transform into wafer-scale 2D single-crystals through seeded growth on the surface of any arbitrary substrate.

    • Huaying Ren
    • Xiangfeng Duan
    • Yu Huang
    News & Views
  • Dual-atom catalysts show potential for complex reactions, but their controllable preparation is challenging. A method to transform a Ni nanoparticle into a Ni2N6 dual-atom structure on a carbon support yields a catalyst with precisely controlled atomic site distances, giving excellent performance for CO2 electroreduction.

    • Shuguang Wang
    • Mingchuan Luo
    • Shaojun Guo
    News & Views
  • Adding a promoter to a catalytic reaction can dramatically alter the performance and reactivity of a chemical transformation. By incorporating a Brønsted acid promoter to a photocatalysed reaction, previously unreactive C–H bonds can be functionalized, enabling the discovery of drug molecules.

    • Diane N. Le
    • Danielle M. Schultz
    News & Views
  • Making chiral molecules by C–H bond activation using inexpensive, earth-abundant metal catalysts is challenging. Now, a cobalt salt combined with a salicyl-oxazoline ligand enables a C–H activation and annulation process and the introduction of axial chirality around a C–N bond.

    • Jun Kikuchi
    • Naohiko Yoshikai
    News & Views
  • Noble metal chalcogenides are rapidly becoming attractive materials in several areas of nanoscience; however, their synthesis remains challenging. Now, a simple cation exchange protocol has been employed to prepare these materials in various phases and morphologies.

    • Humberto Rodríguez Gutiérrez
    News & Views
  • Nature has evolved several biosynthetic CO2 fixation pathways for the conversion of CO2 into multi-carbon molecules. Now, a synthetic acetyl-CoA bi-cycle is reported that offers increased carbon efficiency by rewiring carbon fixation and non-oxidative glycolysis with implications for industrial gas fermentation.

    • Michael Köpke
    News & Views
  • Catalytic intramolecular C–H amination via nitrene transfer typically yields N-heterocycles which can be unmasked to amino alcohols and diamines. Now, an enantioselective Co-catalysed 1,5-C–H amination to form cyclic sulfamidates from alcohols allows for ring opening to deliver diverse β-functionalized chiral amines.

    • Emily E. Zerull
    • Jennifer M. Schomaker
    News & Views
  • 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