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  • The optimization of chemical reactions can be laborious, particularly in the case of complex, multicomponent catalytic cycles. Now, it is shown that Bayesian optimization methods, underpinned by explainable computational physical models, can guide chemists to discover efficient organic molecular metallophotocatalyst formulations, avoiding the use of precious metals such as iridium.

    Research Briefing
  • Organic photoredox catalysts enable diverse chemical transformations, but predicting their activity is challenging due to complex properties. Now, a two-step data-driven approach is introduced for targeted organic photoredox catalysts synthesis and reaction optimization. Using Bayesian optimization, promising catalysts can be efficiently identified, yielding competitive results with iridium catalysts.

    • Xiaobo Li
    • Yu Che
    • Andrew I. Cooper
    ArticleOpen Access
  • Standard DNA is limited by low information density and functional diversity. Now it has been shown that an expanded genetic alphabet—incorporating a synthetic nucleotide, dZ—allows for the creation of stable three-dimensional DNA structures under mild alkaline conditions. Such stable structures enrich our understanding of DNA’s structural diversity and its potential in synthetic biology applications.

    • Bang Wang
    • James R. Rocca
    • Steven A. Benner
    ArticleOpen Access
  • In the original Maxwell’s demon thought experiment, a potential gradient of particles between two neighbouring compartments is created without the apparent use of work. Now a functional example of this experiment where material is pumped over centimetres has been reported—o-fluoroazobenzene is transported unidirectionally under light stimulation between two arms of a U-tube across an aqueous layer containing coordination cages.

    • Jiratheep Pruchyathamkorn
    • Bao-Nguyen T. Nguyen
    • Jonathan R. Nitschke
    ArticleOpen Access
  • In molecular biology, few molecules have had as profound an impact as Cas9. Madeleine King, Kayla Perry, Mitchell McAndrew and Audrone Lapinaite discuss how this multifunctional molecular tool of genetic engineering is revolutionizing multiple fields.

    • Madeleine B. King
    • Kayla N. Perry
    • Audrone Lapinaite
    In Your Element
  • The presence of halogens in halogenated organic pollutants has negative impacts on the environment; however, they serve as valuable sources for halogenation reactions. Now it has been shown that transfer chlorination reactions enable the repurposing of halogenated organic pollutants for the synthesis of chlorides and bromides.

    • Heng Liu
    • Ding-Wei Ji
    • Qing-An Chen
  • Deciphering the sulfation and sialylation codes of ganglioside glycans is impeded by the limited accessibility of well-defined structures. Now, an integrated chemoenzymatic strategy has been developed for efficient synthesis of a comprehensive 65-membered ganglioside glycan library, enabling an extensive exploration into their structure–function relationships using glycan microarray technology.

    • Zhuojia Xu
    • Yating Liu
    • Tiehai Li
  • Environmental contamination is in the news more than ever. Shira Joudan introduces key concepts to talk about what happens to chemicals in the environment and what chemists should consider in their day-to-day lives, both at work and at home.

    • Shira Joudan
  • Chemical probes that selectively react with histidine could afford functional insight for those located in vital protein regions, but the moderate nucleophilicity of histidine and interference from other residues pose challenges. A singlet oxygen and chemical probe relay labelling approach demonstrates high selectivity, enabling comprehensive histidine profiling and providing crucial functional insights.

    • Yansheng Zhai
    • Xinyu Zhang
    • Gang Li
  • Posttranslational modifications alter the structure and function of proteins. Now, genetic code expansion enables encoding of ε-N-succinyllysine and ε-N-glutaryllysine residues to decipher the effects of these modifications on enzymatic activity, protein–protein interactions and protein–DNA interactions.

    • Daniela Danková
    • Christian A. Olsen
    News & Views
  • Ethylene feedstocks must be ultrapure for plastics production, but metal-based catalysts used for acetylene removal are limited by cost, scarcity and durability. Now, electrochemical studies demonstrate that 2-thiolimidazole exceeds the efficiency of traditional metal-based catalysts with remarkable selectivity and conversion rates.

    • Quanbin Dai
    • Liming Dai
    News & Views
  • State-of-the-art plastic deconstruction technologies typically require noble metals, consume hydrogen gas, and generate waste methane. Now it has been shown that earth-abundant layered self-pillared zeolite catalysts selectively convert polyethylene to high-octane products without requiring molecular hydrogen.

    • Chris Torres
    • Julie E. Rorrer
    News & Views
  • Plant asparaginyl endopeptidases that function preferentially as transpeptidases naturally catalyse the head-to-tail cyclization of plant peptides. Using substrate mimicry and reaction optimization, their function has now been repurposed to catalyse intermolecular isopeptide bond formation on diverse peptide and protein substrates.

    • Fabian B. H. Rehm
    • Tristan J. Tyler
    • Thomas Durek
    ArticleOpen Access
  • Although functionalized cyclopropenes have found uses in many applications, their synthesis has been severely limited. Now, a hypervalent iodine reagent, in conjunction with gold catalysis, has been utilized to control their reactivity, allowing efficient formation of cyclopropenyl alkynes/alkenes.

    • Sayad Doobary
    • Berit Olofsson
    News & Views
  • The σ-type cyclopropenium cations (CPCs) are unstable species and currently underdeveloped. Now, an iodine(III)-based cyclopropenyl transfer reagent has been developed, which can generate electrophilic cyclopropenyl-gold(III) species as equivalents of σ-type CPCs. The synthetic potential has been demonstrated by the transfer of σ-type CPCs to terminal alkynes and vinylboronic acids.

    • Xiangdong Li
    • Matthew D. Wodrich
    • Jérôme Waser
    ArticleOpen Access
  • Electrophilic halogenation approaches often suffer from low reactivity and chemoselectivity when it comes to complex compounds. Now a class of halogenating reagents based on anomeric amides that can halogenate complex bioactive molecules with diverse functional groups and heterocycles has been developed. The higher reactivity of these anomeric amide reagents is attributed to the energy stored in the pyramidalized nitrogen.

    • Yu Wang
    • Cheng Bi
    • Phil S. Baran
  • Liquid droplets form in cells to concentrate specific biomolecules (while excluding others) in order to perform specific functions. The molecular mechanisms that determine whether different macromolecules undergo co-partitioning or exclusion has so far remained elusive. Now, two studies uncover key principles underlying this selectivity.

    • Michael Phillips
    • Kingshuk Ghosh
    News & Views
  • The synthesis of cationic all-metal aromatic systems without covalent functionalization remains an underexplored area in chemistry. Now a tetracationic [Bi4]4+ featuring all-metal σ-aromaticity has been stabilized through a supramolecular approach relying on dianionic calix[4]pyrrolato indiumbromide shells. This planar rhomboid represents the global minimum for 16 valence electron systems.

    • Ravi Yadav
    • Avijit Maiti
    • Lutz Greb
    ArticleOpen Access