News & Comment

  • News & Views |

    State-of-the-art quantum simulations predict that solvent molecules may partner with a solute in solution to form stable chemically distinct coordination species that interconvert from one to another. The solvent would thus be directly implicated in chemical reactions.

    • Gilles H. Peslherbe
  • News & Views |

    Specific forms of nitrogen doping can endow carbon-based metal-free materials with electrocatalytic activity. Now, introducing sp-hybridized nitrogen atoms into some acetylenic sites of ultra-thin graphdiyne — a highly π-conjugated lamellar carbon allotrope — has led to excellent oxygen reduction reaction activity.

    • Yao Zheng
    •  & Shi-Zhang Qiao
  • In Your Element |

    Taye Demissie relates unununium’s unusually smooth route to roentgenium, and how predicting its properties relies on relativistic calculations.

    • Taye B. Demissie
  • News & Views |

    A new pyrrolysyl-tRNA synthetase/PyltRNA (PylRS/PyltRNA) pair that is mutually orthogonal to existing PylRS/PyltRNA pairs has now been discovered and optimized. This system could enable the site-specific incorporation of a greater number of distinct non-canonical amino acids into a protein.

    • William S. C. Ngai
    •  & Peng R. Chen
  • News & Views |

    Potassium channels rapidly move K+ ions across cell membranes while blocking Na+, but how these two effects are achieved simultaneously has remained unclear. Now, extensive molecular simulations show a single mechanism that features fully dehydrated ions can explain both rapid transport and impeccable selectivity.

    • Ben Corry
  • News & Views |

    Enzymes can perform various biological functions because of their delicately and precisely organized structures. Now, simple inorganic nanoparticles with a rationally designed recognition capability can mimic restriction enzymes and selectively cut specific DNA sequences.

    • Aleksandar P. Ivanov
    •  & Joshua B. Edel
  • In Your Element |

    Vikki Cantrill tells the story of element 88’s discovery and how its glowing reputation eventually faded.

    • Vikki Cantrill
  • Thesis |

    Bruce C. Gibb takes us on a journey through the physical and chemical evolution of planet Earth and suggests that the reverse Hofmeister effect, the phenomenon whereby poorly solvated ions associate in water, could be a powerful driving force towards the first hint of life on the rock we call home.

    • Bruce C. Gibb
  • In Your Element |

    Kit Chapman explores the voyage to the discovery of element 118, the pioneer chemist it is named after, and false claims made along the way.

    • Kit Chapman
  • News & Views |

    Sodium chloride phases with unconventional non-1:1 stoichiometries are known to exist under high-pressure conditions. Now, Na2Cl and Na3Cl two-dimensional crystals have been obtained under ambient conditions, on graphene surfaces, from dilute solutions.

    • Artem R. Oganov
  • Editorial |

    Encoded chemical libraries can be used to screen a vast array of compounds against a protein target to identify potent binders. A collection of articles in this issue discuss different methods to increase the chemical space sampled by encoded macrocycle libraries and the advantages that such libraries offer for discovering new drug leads.

  • Thesis |

    Michelle Francl dusts off Pauling’s notes on bonding to explore the illusory link between electron promotion and hybridization.

    • Michelle Francl
  • Q&A |

    Ghotas Evindar, Chemistry Group Leader at GlaxoSmithKline, talks with Nature Chemistry about the advantages of using encoded libraries in drug discovery and the challenges these technologies present.

    • Russell Johnson
  • News & Views |

    Certain drug targets have been deemed undruggable because of the difficulty in finding pharmacologically useful inhibitors. Now, two teams have developed exciting technologies for the creation of diverse collections of macrocyclic molecules and have demonstrated their usefulness for discovering macrocyclic inhibitors.

    • Emil S. Iqbal
    •  & Matthew C. T. Hartman
  • News & Views |

    As the most abundant class of biomolecules on Earth, carbohydrates are implicated in a multitude of biological functions. Now, a simple chemical transformation has enabled the direct and selective installation of carbohydrates onto a diverse range of small molecules and peptides.

    • Lara R. Malins
  • News & Views |

    Molecular vibrations can be highly effective promoters of gas-phase chemistry. Now, measurements show that excited vibrational states can survive on metal surfaces far longer than expected — reshaping our understanding of how vibrational excitation might also promote or modify heterogeneously catalysed chemistry on metals.

    • Arthur L. Utz
  • News & Views |

    The beauty and activity of enzymes inspire chemists to tailor new and better non-biological catalysts. Now, a study reveals that the active sites within heterogeneous catalysts actively cooperate in a fashion phenomenologically similar to, but mechanistically distinct, from enzymes.

    • Bert M. Weckhuysen
  • In Your Element |

    Scientists take nomenclature seriously, but tritium was named in a casual aside. Brett F. Thornton and Shawn C. Burdette discuss the heavy, radioactive hydrogen isotope that is available for purchase online.

    • Brett F. Thornton
    •  & Shawn C. Burdette
  • In Your Element |

    Adrian Dingle relates how one ‘element’ that fell off the periodic table was eventually replaced by two.

    • Adrian Dingle
  • News & Views |

    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.

    • Alvaro Mata
  • Thesis |

    Bruce C. Gibb discusses the biochemistry behind the sensory experiences associated with eating chillies and the lesser-known tingle-inducing ‘sanshools’.

    • Bruce C. Gibb
  • Thesis |

    To appreciate women’s contribution to science, Michelle Francl suggests it’s time to stop talking about the most famous one.

    • Michelle Francl
  • News & Views |

    Ribosomes have now been shown to accept certain initiator tRNAs acylated with aromatic foldamer–dipeptides thereby enabling the translation of a peptide or protein with a short aromatic foldamer at the N-terminus. Some foldamer–peptide hybrids could be cyclized to generate macrocycles that present conformationally restricted peptide loops.

    • Alanna Schepartz