Articles

  • Article |

    Conducting high-resolution, multiplexed imaging in living mammals is challenging because of considerable scattering and autofluorescence in tissue at visible and near-infrared wavelengths. Now, real-time, non-invasive multicolour imaging experiments in live animals have been achieved through the design of optical contrast agents for the shortwave infrared (SWIR, 1,000–2,000 nm) region and the introduction of excitation multiplexing with single-channel SWIR detection.

    • Emily D. Cosco
    • , Anthony L. Spearman
    • , Shyam Ramakrishnan
    • , Jakob G. P. Lingg
    • , Mara Saccomano
    • , Monica Pengshung
    • , Bernardo A. Arús
    • , Kelly C. Y. Wong
    • , Sarah Glasl
    • , Vasilis Ntziachristos
    • , Martin Warmer
    • , Ryan R. McLaughlin
    • , Oliver T. Bruns
    •  & Ellen M. Sletten
  • Article |

    Silyl-substituted silicon–carbonyl complexes that are stable at room temperature have been prepared by exposure of highly reactive bis(silyl)silylenes to carbon monoxide. The compounds show structural features and reactivity that are reminiscent of their ubiquitous transition-metal–carbonyl counterparts, including π-backbonding and ligand liberation as well as substitution and functionalization reactions.

    • Dominik Reiter
    • , Richard Holzner
    • , Amelie Porzelt
    • , Philipp Frisch
    •  & Shigeyoshi Inoue
  • Article |

    The controllable functionalization of graphene at the molecular level may prove useful for graphene-based electronics, but is difficult to do in a precise fashion. Now it has been shown that a photocycloaddition reaction between a hydrogen-bonded network of maleimide-derived molecules and single-layer graphene can produce a functionalized array with long-range order.

    • Miao Yu
    • , Chong Chen
    • , Qi Liu
    • , Cristina Mattioli
    • , Hongqian Sang
    • , Guoqiang Shi
    • , Wujun Huang
    • , Kongchao Shen
    • , Zhuo Li
    • , Pengcheng Ding
    • , Pengfei Guan
    • , Shaoshan Wang
    • , Ye Sun
    • , Jinping Hu
    • , André Gourdon
    • , Lev Kantorovich
    • , Flemming Besenbacher
    • , Mingshu Chen
    • , Fei Song
    •  & Federico Rosei
  • Article |

    It is unclear how phospholipid membranes formed on the early Earth, as modern cells synthesize the phospholipid constituents of their membranes enzymatically. Now, a combination of ion pairing and self-assembly has enabled transacylation of lysophospholipids with acyl donors in water, affording a variety of membrane-forming natural diacylphospholipids in high yields.

    • Luping Liu
    • , Yike Zou
    • , Ahanjit Bhattacharya
    • , Dongyang Zhang
    • , Susan Q. Lang
    • , K. N. Houk
    •  & Neal K. Devaraj
  • Article |

    Metal-catalysed prebiotic reactions have been proposed as forerunners of modern metabolism. Now, an abiotic pathway resembling the reverse tricarboxylic acid cycle has been shown to proceed without metal catalysis. The reaction of glyoxylate and pyruvate produces a series of α-ketoacid tricarboxylic acid analogues, and provides a route to generate α-amino acids by transamination.

    • R. Trent Stubbs
    • , Mahipal Yadav
    • , Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy
    •  & Greg Springsteen
  • Article |

    Efficient and stable water oxidation catalysts are important if photoelectrochemical cells are to be used to provide clean and sustainable solar fuels. A water oxidation catalyst that operates at neutral pH has now been developed that features ruthenium coordination oligomers anchored onto the surfaces of graphitic materials through CH–π interactions.

    • Md Asmaul Hoque
    • , Marcos Gil-Sepulcre
    • , Adiran de Aguirre
    • , Johannes A. A. W. Elemans
    • , Dooshaye Moonshiram
    • , Roc Matheu
    • , Yuanyuan Shi
    • , Jordi Benet-Buchholz
    • , Xavier Sala
    • , Marc Malfois
    • , Eduardo Solano
    • , Joohyun Lim
    • , Alba Garzón-Manjón
    • , Christina Scheu
    • , Mario Lanza
    • , Feliu Maseras
    • , Carolina Gimbert-Suriñach
    •  & Antoni Llobet
  • Article |

    In 1949, Winstein and Trifan proposed that the 2-norbornyl cation adopts a bridged, non-classical structure. Now, the generation of an asymmetric environment around the three-centre two-electron bond of such an ion has been reported, enabling highly enantioselective catalytic addition reactions to a simple, non-functionalized non-classical cation.

    • Roberta Properzi
    • , Philip S. J. Kaib
    • , Markus Leutzsch
    • , Gabriele Pupo
    • , Raja Mitra
    • , Chandra Kanta De
    • , Lijuan Song
    • , Peter R. Schreiner
    •  & Benjamin List
  • Article |

    High-accuracy quantum chemistry methods struggle with a combinatorial explosion of Slater determinants in larger molecular systems, but now a method has been developed that learns electronic wavefunctions with deep neural networks and reaches high accuracy with only a few determinants. The method is applicable to realistic chemical processes such as the automerization of cyclobutadiene.

    • Jan Hermann
    • , Zeno Schätzle
    •  & Frank Noé
  • Article |

    Crystal symmetry is notoriously uncorrelated to the symmetry of the constituent molecules that make up a crystal. Symmetry breaking is typically thought to occur during nucleation and growth, but a symmetry element of olanzapine crystals—an inversion centre—has now been shown to emerge in centrosymmetric dimers extant in solution prior to crystallization.

    • Monika Warzecha
    • , Lakshmanji Verma
    • , Blair F. Johnston
    • , Jeremy C. Palmer
    • , Alastair J. Florence
    •  & Peter G. Vekilov
  • Article |

    Although azetidines represent highly desirable building blocks in drug discovery, methods for their efficient and straightforward synthesis remain underdeveloped. Now, it has been shown that highly functionalized azetidines can be prepared via an intermolecular [2+2] photocycloaddition reaction between cyclic oximes and alkenes, in a process enabled by a visible-light-mediated triplet energy transfer.

    • Marc R. Becker
    • , Emily R. Wearing
    •  & Corinna S. Schindler
  • Article |

    Despite the fundamental role of ATPase in catalysing ATP hydrolysis, the structural and energetic aspects of this process are not fully understood. Coarse-grained computational models have now been used to calculate the free-energy surfaces of different types of ATPases. The catalytic dwell is shown not to be crucial for movement against applied torque.

    • Chen Bai
    • , Mojgan Asadi
    •  & Arieh Warshel
  • Article |

    The vast majority of species capable of converting dinitrogen to ammonia rely on transition metals. Now, a boron compound has been shown to mediate the one-pot binding, cleavage and reduction of N2 to ammonium salts under mild conditions through a complex cascade mechanism involving multiple reduction–protonation sequences.

    • Marc-André Légaré
    • , Guillaume Bélanger-Chabot
    • , Maximilian Rang
    • , Rian D. Dewhurst
    • , Ivo Krummenacher
    • , Rüdiger Bertermann
    •  & Holger Braunschweig
  • Article |

    A chemoenzymatic method to site-specifically conjugate peptide and protein thioesters to folded proteins at lysine residues has been developed. The method uses a genetically encoded four-residue tag that is recognized by the E2 SUMO-conjugating enzyme Ubc9. This approach enables isopeptide formation with just Ubc9 in a programmable manner and obviates the need for E1 and E3 enzymes.

    • Raphael Hofmann
    • , Gaku Akimoto
    • , Thomas G. Wucherpfennig
    • , Cathleen Zeymer
    •  & Jeffrey W. Bode
  • Article |

    Quantum machine learning with improved data efficiency and transferability has been achieved using on-the-fly selection of query-dependent training molecules, which are drawn from a ‘dictionary’ of atom-in-molecule-based fragments. The benefits of the resulting models have been demonstrated for important molecular properties and for systems including organic molecules, 2D materials, water clusters, DNA base pairs and ubiquitin.

    • Bing Huang
    •  & O. Anatole von Lilienfeld
  • Article |

    A six-helix bundle DNA structure called meta-DNA has now been assembled and shown to possess some structural properties similar to those of single-stranded DNA. Two meta-DNAs containing complementary ‘meta-base pairs’ are shown to form double helices. Meta-DNA building blocks are also used to construct a series of DNA architectures and to perform a hierarchical strand-displacement reaction.

    • Guangbao Yao
    • , Fei Zhang
    • , Fei Wang
    • , Tianhuan Peng
    • , Hao Liu
    • , Erik Poppleton
    • , Petr Šulc
    • , Shuoxing Jiang
    • , Lan Liu
    • , Chen Gong
    • , Xinxin Jing
    • , Xiaoguo Liu
    • , Lihua Wang
    • , Yan Liu
    • , Chunhai Fan
    •  & Hao Yan
  • Article |

    Latent functional groups—typically unreactive unless activated by protein binding—can provide additional selectivity to covalent drugs. Now, compounds containing the weakly electrophilic sulfuramidimidoyl fluoride group, capable of undergoing sulfur(vi) fluoride exchange, have been used to identify reactive proteins in human cell lysate. This approach has identified a compound that conjugates to and inhibits an important anticancer target.

    • Gabriel J. Brighty
    • , Rachel C. Botham
    • , Suhua Li
    • , Luke Nelson
    • , David E. Mortenson
    • , Gencheng Li
    • , Christophe Morisseau
    • , Hua Wang
    • , Bruce D. Hammock
    • , K. Barry Sharpless
    •  & Jeffery W. Kelly
  • Article |

    Crystal nucleation processes are difficult to probe experimentally because of the spatial and temporal scales involved. Now, the heterogeneous nucleation of three different metals has been observed by electron microscopy with atomic resolution—using single-walled carbon nanotube as test tubes—and, in each case, shown to adopt a two-step nucleation mechanism involving a metastable amorphous precursor.

    • Kecheng Cao
    • , Johannes Biskupek
    • , Craig T. Stoppiello
    • , Robert L. McSweeney
    • , Thomas W. Chamberlain
    • , Zheng Liu
    • , Kazu Suenaga
    • , Stephen T. Skowron
    • , Elena Besley
    • , Andrei N. Khlobystov
    •  & Ute Kaiser
  • Article |

    A selection-based screen has now revealed preferences in small-molecule chemotypes that bind RNA as well as preferences in the RNA motifs that bind small molecules. Analysis of these data enabled the design of a small molecule that selectively binds a non-coding microRNA and upregulates expression of vascular endothelial growth factor A.

    • Hafeez S. Haniff
    • , Laurent Knerr
    • , Xiaohui Liu
    • , Gogce Crynen
    • , Jonas Boström
    • , Daniel Abegg
    • , Alexander Adibekian
    • , Elizabeth Lekah
    • , Kye Won Wang
    • , Michael D. Cameron
    • , Ilyas Yildirim
    • , Malin Lemurell
    •  & Matthew D. Disney
  • Article |

    Transient metallonitrenes (M–N) have been proposed as key intermediates in nitrogen atom transfer reactions, but well-defined examples have remained elusive. Now, a platinum complex with an atomic nitrogen ligand, best described as a subvalent nitrogen diradical singly bonded to a platinum(ii) ion (Pt–N), has been isolated and shows ambiphilic reactivity.

    • Jian Sun
    • , Josh Abbenseth
    • , Hendrik Verplancke
    • , Martin Diefenbach
    • , Bas de Bruin
    • , David Hunger
    • , Christian Würtele
    • , Joris van Slageren
    • , Max C. Holthausen
    •  & Sven Schneider
  • Article |

    Cyclic β-amino acids can add useful properties to peptides, such as inducing turn structures or providing resistance to proteases. To harness these properties up to ten consecutive cyclic β-amino acids have now been ribosomally incorporated via genetic code reprogramming into a foldamer peptide library that has been screened for potent binders against a protein target, human factor XIIa.

    • Takayuki Katoh
    • , Toru Sengoku
    • , Kunio Hirata
    • , Kazuhiro Ogata
    •  & Hiroaki Suga
  • Article |

    White phosphorus (P4) is very reactive but is relatively difficult to activate without relying on transition metals. Now, it has been shown that the degradation of P4 can be mediated by two divalent silicon atoms in a bis(silylene) scaffold to give a diphosphorus complex that can be further functionalized and also act as a P transfer agent.

    • Yuwen Wang
    • , Tibor Szilvási
    • , Shenglai Yao
    •  & Matthias Driess
  • Article |

    A series of enzymes that catalyse the formation of strained peptide cyclophanes through a stereospecific C(sp2)–C(sp3) bond have been identified. Crosslinking occurs on three-residue motifs that include tryptophan or phenylalanine to form indole- or phenyl-bridged cyclophanes. These enzymes are widely distributed in nature and represent promising tools for peptide biotechnology.

    • Thi Quynh Ngoc Nguyen
    • , Yi Wei Tooh
    • , Ryosuke Sugiyama
    • , Thi Phuong Diep Nguyen
    • , Mugilarasi Purushothaman
    • , Li Chuan Leow
    • , Karyna Hanif
    • , Rubin How Sheng Yong
    • , Irene Agatha
    • , Fernaldo R. Winnerdy
    • , Muriel Gugger
    • , Anh Tuân Phan
    •  & Brandon I. Morinaka
  • Article |

    Patterns formed by artificial out-of-equilibrium chemical oscillating networks (such as the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction) are difficult to control with any precision. Now, it has been shown that low-intensity audible sound can be used to generate spatiotemporal patterns with a programmable distribution of redox- and pH-responsive chemical systems and supramolecular assemblies in solution.

    • Ilha Hwang
    • , Rahul Dev Mukhopadhyay
    • , Prabhu Dhasaiyan
    • , Seoyeon Choi
    • , Soo-Young Kim
    • , Young Ho Ko
    • , Kangkyun Baek
    •  & Kimoon Kim
  • Article |

    Class II terpene cyclases convert simple linear substrates into complex polycyclic compounds, which typically requires multiple protein domains. Now, a single-domain class II cyclase, a cyanobacterial merosterolic acid synthase, has been identified and characterized. High-resolution X-ray crystal structures provide detailed insights into how a minimalistic enzyme accomplishes this complex cyclization process.

    • Philipp Moosmann
    • , Felix Ecker
    • , Stefan Leopold-Messer
    • , Jackson K. B. Cahn
    • , Cora L. Dieterich
    • , Michael Groll
    •  & Jörn Piel
  • Article |

    Artificial intrinsically disordered proteins (A-IDPs) have now been shown to form exclusionary, intracellular droplets that can be designed using simple principles that are based on the aromatic/aliphatic ratio and molecular weight. Droplets that sequester an enzyme and modulate enzyme efficiency on the basis of the molecular weight of the A-IDPs were also engineered using A-IDPs as a minimal condensate scaffold.

    • Michael Dzuricky
    • , Bradley A. Rogers
    • , Abdulla Shahid
    • , Paul S. Cremer
    •  & Ashutosh Chilkoti
  • Article |

    Reversible nanoscale knotting and unknotting of a molecular strand can be used to control the handedness of helical organizations at macroscopic length scales. Dopant knotted and unknotted strands induce supramolecular helical structures of opposite handedness in achiral liquid crystals, and the left- and right-handed forms can be switched in situ.

    • Nathalie Katsonis
    • , Federico Lancia
    • , David A. Leigh
    • , Lucian Pirvu
    • , Alexander Ryabchun
    •  & Fredrik Schaufelberger
  • Article |

    Three crystalline complexes comprising a linear [UN2] moiety that is isoelectronic to the ubiquitous uranyl cation [UO2]2+ have been prepared by reaction of UCl5 or UBr5 with liquid ammonia. Quantum chemical calculations showed that the bonding in the [UN2] moieties is best described with two U≡N triple bonds.

    • Stefan S. Rudel
    • , H. Lars Deubner
    • , Matthias Müller
    • , Antti J. Karttunen
    •  & Florian Kraus
  • Article |

    CD44 is a cell-surface adhesion receptor associated with many biological processes that rely on cellular plasticity. Now, CD44 has been shown to mediate endocytosis of iron-bound hyaluronates. Furthermore, iron catalyses the demethylation of repressive histone marks, thereby unlocking the expression of genes regulating cellular plasticity.

    • Sebastian Müller
    • , Fabien Sindikubwabo
    • , Tatiana Cañeque
    • , Anne Lafon
    • , Antoine Versini
    • , Bérangère Lombard
    • , Damarys Loew
    • , Ting-Di Wu
    • , Christophe Ginestier
    • , Emmanuelle Charafe-Jauffret
    • , Adeline Durand
    • , Céline Vallot
    • , Sylvain Baulande
    • , Nicolas Servant
    •  & Raphaël Rodriguez
  • Article |

    The biosynthesis of goadvionins—hybrid lipopeptide antibiotics—is not fully understood. An unusual acyltransferase, GdvG, has now been identified and shown to catalyse a condensation reaction between an acyl-carrier-protein-tethered very-long-chain fatty acid and an eight-residue ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptide. The position of functional groups in the very-long acyl chain have been determined by tandem mass spectrometry.

    • Ryosuke Kozakai
    • , Takuto Ono
    • , Shotaro Hoshino
    • , Hidenori Takahashi
    • , Yohei Katsuyama
    • , Yoshinori Sugai
    • , Taro Ozaki
    • , Kazuya Teramoto
    • , Kanae Teramoto
    • , Koichi Tanaka
    • , Ikuro Abe
    • , Shumpei Asamizu
    •  & Hiroyasu Onaka
  • Article |

    Using readily accessible tropones and γ-methylidene-δ-valerolactones, the divergent synthesis of three classes of challenging [5.5.0] or [4.4.1] bicyclic systems has been achieved—with high efficiency and stereoselectivity—through Pd-catalysed higher-order cycloaddition. Mechanistic studies and density functional theory calculations indicate that the divergent reactions arise from the different reactivity of two diastereomeric intermediates.

    • Li-Cheng Yang
    • , Ya-Nong Wang
    • , Ruoyang Liu
    • , Yixin Luo
    • , Xiao Qian Ng
    • , Binmiao Yang
    • , Zi-Qiang Rong
    • , Yu Lan
    • , Zhihui Shao
    •  & Yu Zhao
  • Article |

    Chemical reactions usually proceed through either a radical, concerted or ionic mechanism; transformations in which all three mechanisms occur are rare. Now, the mechanical dissociation of an N-heterocyclic carbene precursor has been shown to proceed with the rupture of a C–C bond through concomitant heterolytic, concerted and homolytic pathways.

    • Robert Nixon
    •  & Guillaume De Bo
  • Article |

    Photoinduced isomerization reactions, including ring-opening reactions, lie at the heart of many chemical processes in nature. The pathway and dynamics of the ring opening of a model heterocycle have now been investigated by femtosecond photoelectron spectroscopy combined with ab initio theory, enabling the visualization of rich dynamics in both the ground and excited electronic states.

    • Shashank Pathak
    • , Lea M. Ibele
    • , Rebecca Boll
    • , Carlo Callegari
    • , Alexander Demidovich
    • , Benjamin Erk
    • , Raimund Feifel
    • , Ruaridh Forbes
    • , Michele Di Fraia
    • , Luca Giannessi
    • , Christopher S. Hansen
    • , David M. P. Holland
    • , Rebecca A. Ingle
    • , Robert Mason
    • , Oksana Plekan
    • , Kevin C. Prince
    • , Arnaud Rouzée
    • , Richard J. Squibb
    • , Jan Tross
    • , Michael N. R. Ashfold
    • , Basile F. E. Curchod
    •  & Daniel Rolles
  • Article |

    Visualization of endogenous G-quadruplexes (G4s) in living cells by fluorescence microscopy has been hampered by the high concentrations of G4-binding probes required, which can artificially induce additional G4 formation. Now, a G4-specific fluorescent probe (SiR-PyPDS) has been developed that enables single-molecule and real-time detection of individual G4 structures in living cells without perturbing G4 formation and dynamics.

    • Marco Di Antonio
    • , Aleks Ponjavic
    • , Antanas Radzevičius
    • , Rohan T. Ranasinghe
    • , Marco Catalano
    • , Xiaoyun Zhang
    • , Jiazhen Shen
    • , Lisa-Maria Needham
    • , Steven F. Lee
    • , David Klenerman
    •  & Shankar Balasubramanian
  • Article |

    Engineering reverse transcriptases for modified or unnatural nucleic acids is challenging, but now a versatile method has been developed that enables the discovery of efficient reverse transcriptases. The method works with a wide range of template structures, including xeno-nucleic acids and can also be used to produce high-fidelity reverse transcriptases for RNA.

    • Gillian Houlihan
    • , Sebastian Arangundy-Franklin
    • , Benjamin T. Porebski
    • , Nithya Subramanian
    • , Alexander I. Taylor
    •  & Philipp Holliger
  • Article |

    Multivalent binding is a common strategy to enhance the interactions between weak binding partners. Now, following this principle, DNA origami scaffolds have been used to arrange DNA aptamers into specific geometries and to optimize linker spacings and flexibilities, which results in artificial binding sites with very high affinities for their corresponding ligands.

    • Ali Aghebat Rafat
    • , Sandra Sagredo
    • , Melissa Thalhammer
    •  & Friedrich C. Simmel
  • Article |

    Molecular rotors have been engineered within the bicyclopentane–dicarboxylate struts of a metal–organic framework—the bicyclic unit is the rotator and the carboxylate groups serve as the stator. In a zinc-based metal–organic framework, the crossed conformation of the strut–metal nodes enables fast rotation of the bicyclic moiety, but in the corresponding zirconium metal–organic framework a change in the conformation results in much slower rotation.

    • Jacopo Perego
    • , Silvia Bracco
    • , Mattia Negroni
    • , Charl X. Bezuidenhout
    • , Giacomo Prando
    • , Pietro Carretta
    • , Angiolina Comotti
    •  & Piero Sozzani
  • Article |

    Many bacterial pathogens release effector enzymes belonging to the large Fic family, which modify host targets with nucleotide monophosphates. Now, recombinantly produced Fic enzymes have been equipped with synthetic thiol-reactive nucleotide derivatives to make covalent binary probes. The reaction of modified Fic enzymes with their targets permits covalent substrate capture and the structural determination of low-affinity ternary enzyme–nucleotide–substrate complexes.

    • Burak Gulen
    • , Marie Rosselin
    • , Joel Fauser
    • , Michael F. Albers
    • , Christian Pett
    • , Christoph Krisp
    • , Vivian Pogenberg
    • , Hartmut Schlüter
    • , Christian Hedberg
    •  & Aymelt Itzen
  • Article |

    The invariable core of a type II polyketide synthase has been characterized using X-ray crystallography, simulations, mutagenesis experiments and functional assays. The characterization of the ternary acyl carrier protein complexes provides a mechanistic understanding of the reactivity and could inform future engineering of this complex biosynthetic machinery.

    • Alois Bräuer
    • , Qiuqin Zhou
    • , Gina L. C. Grammbitter
    • , Maximilian Schmalhofer
    • , Michael Rühl
    • , Ville R. I. Kaila
    • , Helge B. Bode
    •  & Michael Groll
  • Article |

    The strength of electrostatic interactions in semiconductors strongly affects their performance in optoelectronic devices. Now, doping two-dimensional naphthalene-based lead halide perovskites with tetrachloro-1,2-benzoquinone has been shown to introduce donor–acceptor interactions within the organic network, without disrupting the inorganic sublattice. This in turn altered the energy of the materials’ electron–hole electrostatic Coulomb interactions.

    • James V. Passarelli
    • , Catherine M. Mauck
    • , Samuel W. Winslow
    • , Collin F. Perkinson
    • , Jacob C. Bard
    • , Hiroaki Sai
    • , Kristopher W. Williams
    • , Ashwin Narayanan
    • , Daniel J. Fairfield
    • , Mark P. Hendricks
    • , William A. Tisdale
    •  & Samuel I. Stupp
  • Article |

    Access to both enantiomers of a chiral target compound typically relies on reversing the absolute configuration of the chiral component in the reaction system that is used to make them. A time-dependent enantiodivergent synthesis is reported in which the same enantiomer of a chiral catalyst can give both enantiomers of the product, depending on the reaction time.

    • Hang-Fei Tu
    • , Pusu Yang
    • , Zi-Hua Lin
    • , Chao Zheng
    •  & Shu-Li You
  • Article |

    A general method for the enantioselective hydrocyanation of alkenes has been a long-standing synthetic challenge. Now, using a dual electrocatalytic approach that combines two synergistic redox catalytic cycles, a wide variety of chiral nitriles can be synthesized from conjugated alkenes in high enantioselectivity.

    • Lu Song
    • , Niankai Fu
    • , Brian G. Ernst
    • , Wai Hang Lee
    • , Michael O. Frederick
    • , Robert A. DiStasio Jr.
    •  & Song Lin
  • Article |

    The reduction of N2 to NH3 is mediated in living systems by the enzyme nitrogenase and in the chemical industry by the Haber–Bosch process; both systems rely on iron-based catalysis. Now, a molecular tri(iron)bis(nitrido) complex, prepared by reduction of a bis(iron)bis(iodo) precursor under an N2 atmosphere, has been isolated and shown to promote the formation of NH3 from H2.

    • Matthias Reiners
    • , Dirk Baabe
    • , Katharina Münster
    • , Marc-Kevin Zaretzke
    • , Matthias Freytag
    • , Peter G. Jones
    • , Yannick Coppel
    • , Sébastien Bontemps
    • , Iker del Rosal
    • , Laurent Maron
    •  & Marc D. Walter
  • Article |

    The highly frustrated spin-1/2 kagome lattice antiferromagnet, predicted to exhibit unconventional magnetic behaviours, has remained difficult to synthesize without structural imperfections. Now, a d1-titanium fluoride kagome lattice antiferromagnet has been prepared in which there is only one crystallographically distinct Ti3+ site and one type of bridging fluoride, and it is shown to be a frustrated magnet with unusual magnetic properties.

    • Ningxin Jiang
    • , Arun Ramanathan
    • , John Bacsa
    •  & Henry S. La Pierre
  • Article |

    Despite numerous potential applications, the development of light-responsive solid materials based on molecular photoswitches is impeded by the low efficiency of photoisomerization in the solid environment. Now a robust, solid porous material made from tetraphenylmethane and a photoswitchable overcrowded alkene exhibits nearly quantitative photoisomerization in the bulk and in photomodulation of gas uptake.

    • Fabio Castiglioni
    • , Wojciech Danowski
    • , Jacopo Perego
    • , Franco King-Chi Leung
    • , Piero Sozzani
    • , Silvia Bracco
    • , Sander J. Wezenberg
    • , Angiolina Comotti
    •  & Ben L. Feringa
  • Article |

    In contrast to the variety of stable carbonyl complexes of group 7–12 metals, few are known for group 3–5 metals; among those, cations have only been identified in the gas phase or by matrix isolation. Now, several unusual niobium and tantalum carbonyl compounds have been prepared as bulk crystalline compounds, including heptacarbonyl salts and the neutral ditantalum dodecacarbonyl.

    • W. Unkrig
    • , M. Schmitt
    • , D. Kratzert
    • , D. Himmel
    •  & I. Krossing
  • Article |

    The synthesis of chiral amino alcohols from simple alcohol starting materials can be achieved through a catalytic, asymmetric radical relay. Multiple catalysts work in concert to harness a H-atom transfer mechanism to enable enantio- and regioselective C–H amination by transient N-centred radicals.

    • Kohki M. Nakafuku
    • , Zuxiao Zhang
    • , Ethan A. Wappes
    • , Leah M. Stateman
    • , Andrew D. Chen
    •  & David A. Nagib
  • Article |

    Conventionally, urea is synthesized via two consecutive processes, N2 + H2 → NH3 followed by NH3 + CO2. Now, an electrocatalyst consisting of PdCu alloy nanoparticles on TiO2 nanosheets has been shown to directly couple N2 and CO2 in H2O to produce urea under ambient conditions.

    • Chen Chen
    • , Xiaorong Zhu
    • , Xiaojian Wen
    • , Yangyang Zhou
    • , Ling Zhou
    • , Hao Li
    • , Li Tao
    • , Qiling Li
    • , Shiqian Du
    • , Tingting Liu
    • , Dafeng Yan
    • , Chao Xie
    • , Yuqin Zou
    • , Yanyong Wang
    • , Ru Chen
    • , Jia Huo
    • , Yafei Li
    • , Jun Cheng
    • , Hui Su
    • , Xu Zhao
    • , Weiren Cheng
    • , Qinghua Liu
    • , Hongzhen Lin
    • , Jun Luo
    • , Jun Chen
    • , Mingdong Dong
    • , Kai Cheng
    • , Conggang Li
    •  & Shuangyin Wang
  • Article |

    Single-atom catalysts maximize metal atom efficiency and exhibit properties that can be considerably different to their nanoparticle equivalent. Now a general host–guest strategy to make various single-atom catalysts on nitrogen-doped carbon has been developed; the iridium variant electrocatalyses the formic acid oxidation reaction with high mass activity and displays high tolerance to CO poisoning.

    • Zhi Li
    • , Yuanjun Chen
    • , Shufang Ji
    • , Yan Tang
    • , Wenxing Chen
    • , Ang Li
    • , Jie Zhao
    • , Yu Xiong
    • , Yuen Wu
    • , Yue Gong
    • , Tao Yao
    • , Wei Liu
    • , Lirong Zheng
    • , Juncai Dong
    • , Yu Wang
    • , Zhongbin Zhuang
    • , Wei Xing
    • , Chun-Ting He
    • , Chao Peng
    • , Weng-Chon Cheong
    • , Qiheng Li
    • , Maolin Zhang
    • , Zheng Chen
    • , Ninghua Fu
    • , Xin Gao
    • , Wei Zhu
    • , Jiawei Wan
    • , Jian Zhang
    • , Lin Gu
    • , Shiqiang Wei
    • , Peijun Hu
    • , Jun Luo
    • , Jun Li
    • , Chen Chen
    • , Qing Peng
    • , Xiangfeng Duan
    • , Yu Huang
    • , Xiao-Ming Chen
    • , Dingsheng Wang
    •  & Yadong Li
  • Article |

    Site-selective functionalization of nearly identical C–H bonds has been a long-standing challenge. Now, a regioselective C–H amination has been achieved by [CpxIr(iii)] catalysis, which senses subtle electronic differences of allylic C–H bonds induced by remote electron-withdrawing groups. A linear correlation between Δ1JCH and ΔΔG is found, leading to predictable regioselectivities.

    • Honghui Lei
    •  & Tomislav Rovis