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Calcium-ion batteries are potentially attractive alternatives to lithium-ion batteries, but remain largely unexplored because of low performance. A reversible calcium alloying/de-alloying reaction with the tin anode has now been coupled with the intercalation/de-intercalation of hexafluorophosphate in the graphite cathode to enable a calcium-ion battery that operates stably at room temperature.
Low-cost battery technology is attractive in the fields of electric vehicles and grid-scale energy storage. Now, a room-temperature calcium-ion battery exhibiting an average working voltage of 4.45 V and 95% capacity retention after 350 cycles has been developed. The new battery configuration and working mechanism contribute to its electrochemical performance.
I-motif DNA structures are thought to form in cytosine-rich regions of the genome and to have regulatory functions; however, in vivo evidence for the existence of such structures has so far remained elusive. Now an engineered antibody that is selective for i-motif structures has been developed and used to detect i-motifs in the nuclei of human cells.
Our understanding of reaction dynamics has developed as more accurate measurements of product state-resolved angular distributions have become available. Now, fast forward-scattering oscillations in the product angular distribution of the benchmark chemical reaction H + HD → H2 + D have been observed and are in excellent agreement with quantum-mechanical dynamics calculations.
Proteins are attractive material building blocks, yet their intrinsic functionality has remained largely untapped. Now, a protein-based material that exhibits controllable self-assembling behaviour has been prepared in a one-pot synthesis by simultaneous use of recombinant expression and post-translational modification.
The M-cluster in the active site of nitrogenase is derived from an 8Fe core assembled via coupling and rearrangement of two [Fe4S4] clusters concomitant with the insertion of an interstitial carbon and a ninth sulfur. Now, by combining synthetic [Fe4S4] clusters and assembly with a protein template, it has been shown that sulfite gives rise to the ninth sulfur that is inserted into the nitrogenase cofactor after the radical SAM-dependent carbide insertion and cofactor core rearrangement.
Collision-induced spin–orbit transitions involve multiple interaction potentials and are by nature non-adiabatic, complicating both their experimental and theoretical study. Crossed-beam experiments and non-Born–Oppenheimer quantum calculations for inelastic collisions of carbon atoms with helium atoms, down to energies corresponding to temperatures below 10 K, have now been performed. Quantum-dynamical resonances predicted by theory were experimentally detected.
Scattering of molecules at low temperature that are prepared in single quantum states illuminates the mechanism of rotationally inelastic collisions and reveals the reorientation of partner molecules. By correlating each outgoing partial wave with the incoming waves, partial-wave analysis of the scattering angular distribution determines the dominant short- and long-range anisotropies of the interaction potential.
Molecular collisions can lead to the absorption of incident light even for transitions that are spectroscopically forbidden for the isolated molecules. Now the electronic–vibrational transitions of O2 have been theoretically studied and, contrary to textbook knowledge, it is shown that the absorption mechanism and the spectral line shape depend on the collision partner, oxygen or nitrogen.
The biosynthesis of the [FeFe] hydrogenase active site H-cluster requires several Fe–S proteins that perform poorly understood reactions. Now, a reaction intermediate trapped in the enzyme HydG is shown to contain a [(Cys)Fe(CO)(CN)] species identified as the first organometallic Fe moiety en route to the catalytic H-cluster.
The phase in which a crystal exists can have a direct influence over its properties; however, it is usually difficult to control during synthesis. Now it has been shown that micrometre-sized metallic 1T′-MoS2- and 1T′-MoSe2-layered crystals can be prepared in high phase purity on a large scale, and that they display promising electrocatalytic activity towards the hydrogen evolution reaction.
Mg-based batteries possess potential advantages over their lithium counterparts; however, the use of reversible oxidation-resistant, carbonate-based electrolytes has been hindered because of their undesirable electrochemical reduction reactions. Now, by engineering a Mg2+-conductive artificial interphase on a Mg electrode surface, which prevents such reactivity, highly reversible Mg deposition/stripping in carbonate-based electrolytes has been demonstrated.
Peptide macrocycles are uniquely suited to engage some challenging biological targets, such as protein–protein interactions. Inspired by the ‘C–H’ cross-linked peptide natural products, a highly efficient and generally applicable strategy for constructing cyclophane-braced peptide macrocycles has been developed. The strategy is based on palladium-catalysed intramolecular C(sp3)–H arylation reactions.
A second-generation DNA-templated library of 256,000 small-molecule macrocycles has been developed. The improved method was created by streamlining and integrating multiple aspects of DNA-encoded and DNA-templated library synthesis methodology. In vitro selection of the macrocycle library against insulin-degrading enzyme enabled the discovery of potent inhibitors.
Molecules that mimic the charge surface of B-DNA could enable the inhibition of DNA processive enzymes. Now, helically folded aromatic oligoamide scaffolds have been synthesized that display anions at positions similar to that of B-DNA phosphates. These foldamer mimics can recognize some DNA binding proteins and inhibit enzymes such as HIV integrase and topoisomerase 1.
Cell-to-cell variation in gene expression creates a need for techniques that characterize expression at the level of individual cells. Now, a technique for characterizing mRNA expression has been developed. The technique uses the intracellular self-assembly of magnetic nanoparticles to quantitate RNA levels at the single-cell level.
Nanocatalysts can undergo various dynamic phenomena that affect their activity, such as restructuring and spillover. Now, using spatially and temporally resolved imaging of individual catalytic reactions, cooperative communication between different sites within single palladium- and gold-based nanocatalysts, and between different nanocatalysts, has been observed during three distinct catalytic reactions.
Mapping energy landscapes has proved to be a powerful approach for studying reaction mechanisms. Now, this strategy has been applied to determine the activation energies and entropies that characterize the molecular steps in the misfolding and aggregation of the amyloid-β peptide, revealing striking differences between the thermodynamic signatures of primary and secondary nucleation.
Phytochemicals exhibit great pharmaceutical importance despite their low abundance in nature. The microbial biosynthesis of complex phytochemicals offers one route to increase their availability and production. This Review discusses recent strategies to reconstruct plant biosynthetic pathways that have not been fully elucidated; enhance plant enzyme activity; and enhance overall reaction efficiency of multi-enzyme pathways.