News & Comment

  • 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 |

    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
  • News & Views |

    Evolution of highly functionalized DNA could enable the discovery of artificial nucleic acid sequences with different properties to natural DNA. Now, an artificial translation system has been designed that can support the evolution of non-natural sequence-defined nucleic acid polymers carrying eight different functional groups on 32 codons.

    • John C. Chaput
  • In Your Element |

    From its scarcity to political intrigue over naming conventions, element 108’s story describes how international cooperation overcame the limits of nuclear science, says Michael Tarselli.

    • Michael A. Tarselli
  • News & Views |

    The aqueous hydronium cation diffuses about twice as fast as the aqueous hydroxide anion in liquid water, but the origin of this behaviour has been unclear. Now, state-of-the-art simulations provide an explanation for this long-standing conundrum.

    • Ji Chen
    •  & Angelos Michaelides
  • News & Views |

    An arene-anchored uranium complex has recently been shown to serve as efficient electrocatalyst for the conversion of water into dihydrogen. Now, the crucial role of the arene moiety in enabling catalytic activity — unusual for uranium — has been explored, providing important insight for the design of improved electrocatalysts.

    • Marinella Mazzanti
  • In Your Element |

    Lars Öhrström suspects that as time goes by, we may see more of lutetium — the last of the lanthanoids.

    • Lars Öhrström
  • News & Views |

    Rational engineering of biosynthetic assembly lines for production of new compounds is an attractive prospect, yet it presents many challenges. Learning from biology, some of the rules for expanding the chemical diversity of non-ribosomal peptides have been uncovered in two recent studies.

    • Binuraj R. K. Menon
    •  & Matthew Jenner
  • News & Views |

    A simple palladium catalyst has mediated the facile formation of aroyl triflates — an extremely reactive class of electrophiles. These intermediates, generated in situ, enable the Friedel–Crafts acylation of traditionally unreactive arenes, addressing a significant gap in C–H carbonylation methodology.

    • Yong Ho Lee
    •  & Bill Morandi
  • News & Views |

    Mass spectrometry is a powerful technique for analysing proteins, yet linking higher-order protein structure to amino acid sequence and post-translational modifications is far from simple. Now, a native top-down method has been developed that can provide information on higher-order protein structure and different proteoforms at the same time.

    • Kathrin Breuker
  • Thesis |

    As another semester of organic chemistry comes to a close, Bruce Gibb looks back on what he has learned about learning.

    • Bruce Gibb
  • In Your Element |

    Shawn C. Burdette and Brett F. Thornton explore how germanium developed from a missing element in Mendeleev's periodic table to an enabler for the information age, while retaining a nomenclature oddity.

    • Shawn C. Burdette
    •  & Brett F. Thornton
  • News & Views |

    Using infrared light to control the outcome of a chemical reaction is problematic in solution because of numerous interactions and non-specific sample heating. Now, condensed-phase results showing the vibrational enhancement of an otherwise thermally driven reaction may reinvigorate discussion of the practical applications of vibrational control.

    • Amanda S. Case
  • In Your Element |

    Geng Deng relates how terbium, a garden-variety lanthanide, has found its way into our daily lives owing to its green phosphorescence.

    • Geng Deng
  • Thesis |

    Michelle Francl muses on fantastic beasts of chemistry and why we try to find them.

    • Michelle Francl
  • News & Views |

    Molecular crystals have recently started to shake their inflexible reputation. Now, copper(II) acetylacetonate needles have been shown to be very flexible, and their mechanical deformation has been assessed through materials constants using methods customarily reserved for non-molecular materials.

    • Bart Kahr
    •  & Michael D. Ward
  • News & Views |

    Water-oxidation catalysts that are fast and efficient in strong acid are rare even though there are several benefits for systems working at low pH. Such catalysts usually feature expensive noble metals such as ruthenium and iridum; however, an electrocatalytic system that is exceptionally efficient and based on cobalt has now been developed.

    • Qiushi Yin
    •  & Craig L. Hill
  • News & Views |

    The accumulation of multiple redox equivalents is essential in photo-driven catalytic reactions such as solar water splitting. However, direct spectroscopic observation of a twice-oxidized species under diffuse illumination has proved elusive until now.

    • Anna M. Beiler
    •  & Gary F. Moore
  • News & Views |

    Building materials with clusters instead of atoms promises unconventional properties, but those 'superatomic solids' are often too fragile to manipulate. Now, intercalating a guest within an ionic layered solid made of fullerenes and metal chalcogenide clusters greatly alters its conductivity and optical properties without disrupting its crystalline structure.

    • Shiv N. Khanna
    •  & Arthur C. Reber
  • In Your Element |

    Named after a mysterious place, thulium — one of the rarest rare earths — has some exotic chemistry in store for us, says Polly Arnold.

    • Polly Arnold
  • News & Views |

    The use of mechanical force to break and build chemical bonds in polymers can enable transformations that cannot be conducted using stimuli such as light and heat. Now, an insulating polymer has been mechanically unzipped to create a semiconducting polymer with extended regions of conjugation.

    • Stephen L. Craig
  • News & Views |

    Non-covalent interactions can organize planar molecules into two-dimensional arrays. It has now been shown that such arrays can be combined at the solid–liquid interface into bilayered heterostructures.

    • Manfred Buck