Volume 1 Issue 1, April 2009

Volume 1 Issue 1

The addition of aromatic organic cations to a dispersion of polyoxometalate crystals in water results in the real-time growth of hollow tubes with diameters ranging from one micrometre to just over a tenth of a millimetre. The direction in which a given tube grows can be controlled by placing a physical object in its path, or by applying a voltage to the solution. The cover image shows a schematic representation of a growing microtube with a single polyoxometalate ion visible at the open end of the tube.

Cover design by Kalindi Suri

Article p47; News & Views p22


  • Editorial |

    The continued rise of the internet and so-called 'Web 2.0' developments in particular, offer new opportunities for how chemical information can be stored and shared online — and could transform how the subject is taught and reported.


  • Commentary |

    Online courses administered by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign show that it is possible to create an effective network of professors and students from across institutional and national borders all learning together — even in conceptually challenging subjects such as organic chemistry.

    • Jeffrey S. Moore
    •  & Philip A. Janowicz


  • Feature |

    Chemistry has a central role in science, and synthesis has a central role in chemistry. Ryoji Noyori from Nagoya University considers where synthetic chemists should focus their efforts.

    • Ryoji Noyori
  • Feature |

    With energy swiftly rising to the top of the world's agenda, Harry B. Gray at the California Institute of Technology looks at how chemistry can help to harness the power of the Sun to meet the world's energy needs.

    • Harry B. Gray
  • Feature |

    Mark A. Johnson at Yale University discusses how the two sides of physical chemistry have necessarily developed together, and looks at how their synergy dictates the direction of contemporary research.

    • Mark A. Johnson
  • Feature |

    Understanding the mysteries of life has always been a driving force in scientific research; Barbara Imperiali from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reflects on the infinite opportunities for chemists at the biology interface.

    • Barbara Imperiali
  • Feature |

    The foundations of science are built on the ability to make sensitive, precise measurements. Gary M. Hieftje from Indiana University, Bloomington, considers how analytical instruments and methods are being developed to meet tomorrow's needs.

    • Gary M. Hieftje
  • Feature |

    Diminishing fossil fuel reserves, hazardous chemicals and wasteful processes have led to the emergence of 'green' technologies; James H. Clark at the University of York considers how metals, materials and organic compounds can be prepared by clean and sustainable routes.

    • James H. Clark
  • Feature |

    If syntheses and structures can be more easily predicted, what will it mean for inorganic chemistry? Achim Müller of the University of Bielefeld looks into his (quasi)crystal ball.

    • Achim Müller


  • Thesis |

    The closest that most chemists get to the concepts of nonlinearity and emergent properties is a passing acquaintance with a well-known oscillating reaction. Bruce C. Gibb suggests that looking a little deeper into chaos and complexity could help us to answer some very important questions.

    • Bruce C. Gibb

Books and Arts

Research Highlights


News and Views

  • News & Views |

    Adding polyoxometallate crystals to a solution of organic cations leads to the controllable growth of hollow microtubes that may ultimately prove useful for applications ranging from microfluidics to medicine.

    • Edwin Constable
  • News & Views |

    The timescale on which the hydrogen bonds formed by a water molecule in a salt solution switch between ions and other water molecules is revealed for the first time.

    • Huib J. Bakker
  • News & Views |

    Hydrogen-bonded dimers of one and two base-pair nucleotides can be stabilized inside the hydrophobic pocket provided by self-assembled molecular cages. The results could bring DNA-based computing a step closer to reality.

    • Jim A. Thomas
  • News & Views |

    A drying procedure using supercritical carbon dioxide gives greater access to the pores of metal–organic frameworks, affording larger surface areas for applications.

    • Andrew I. Cooper
    •  & Matthew J. Rosseinsky
  • News & Views |

    The quest for miniaturization of chemical reactors is leading to a tangled web of reaction vessels, each formed at the junction of polymer nanofibres.

    • Andrew J. deMello
    •  & Robert C. R. Wootton
  • News & Views |

    A terminal uranium–carbon multiple bond has long been sought-after in actinide chemistry. Now, a complex featuring a dianionic carbon atom as part of a multidentate ligand brings actinide carbenes a little nearer.

    • Polly L. Arnold


  • Perspective |

    The vast number of known organic compounds and the reactions that connect them together can be thought of as a complex network. Analysing the organic chemistry universe in this manner may prove useful for both fundamental and practical purposes, such as predicting chemical reactivity or improving how regulated substances are monitored.

    • Bartosz A. Grzybowski
    • , Kyle J. M. Bishop
    • , Bartlomiej Kowalczyk
    •  & Christopher E. Wilmer


  • Review Article |

    Advances in computational methods have enabled the trends in reactivity for transition metal and alloy catalysts to be described theoretically. This review discusses some of the first examples of how such knowledge can be used to design solid catalysts.

    • J. K. Nørskov
    • , T. Bligaard
    • , J. Rossmeisl
    •  & C. H. Christensen


  • Article |

    Adding low concentrations of aromatic organic cations to an aqueous solution in which polyoxometalate-based crystals are immersed leads to the spontaneous growth of tubular structures with controllable diameters. Tubes can be fused together to form junctions and are shown to act as channels through which liquids can flow.

    • Chris Ritchie
    • , Geoffrey J. T. Cooper
    • , Yu-Fei Song
    • , Carsten Streb
    • , Huabing Yin
    • , Alexis D. C. Parenty
    • , Donald A. MacLaren
    •  & Leroy Cronin
  • Article |

    Water can behave in unexpected ways at high pressure and temperature. Simulations of the detonation of a high explosive show that ‘extreme’ water can act as a chemical catalyst that promotes the transport of oxygen between reactive sites — contrary to the current view of water as a stable final product.

    • Christine J. Wu
    • , Laurence E. Fried
    • , Lin H. Yang
    • , Nir Goldman
    •  & Sorin Bastea
  • Article |

    The spectrally resolved fluorescence of a zinc–porphyrin dimer is used to quantify intracellular viscosity. The porphyrin dimer also acts as a singlet-oxygen sensitizer, and enables real-time observation of a surprisingly large increase in intracellular viscosity that occurs on singlet-oxygen-mediated photoinduced cell death.

    • Marina K. Kuimova
    • , Stanley W. Botchway
    • , Anthony W. Parker
    • , Milan Balaz
    • , Hazel A. Collins
    • , Harry L. Anderson
    • , Klaus Suhling
    •  & Peter R. Ogilby
  • Article |

    A survey of protein–ligand complexes shows that hydrogen bonds and halogen bonds that share a common oxygen-atom acceptor are often geometrically perpendicular to one another. Moreover, theoretical studies on small-molecule models of such systems predict that these two interactions are energetically independent.

    • Andrea Regier Voth
    • , Patricia Khuu
    • , Keita Oishi
    •  & P. Shing Ho
  • Article |

    Performing chemical reactions on ultra-small scales is important in a number of disciplines. Now, it has been shown that a junction formed by fusing two polymer nanowires preloaded with reactants provides an effective attolitre-volume in which reactions can be conducted on a zeptomole (10−21 mol) scale.

    • Pavel Anzenbacher Jr
    •  & Manuel A. Palacios
  • Article |

    Molecules confined to small volumes can contort themselves into unusual conformations that differ from those usually observed when no constraints are placed on them. It is now shown that when normal alkanes are encapsulated inside self-assembled capsules, they adopt a coiled conformation and exert pressure inside their hosts.

    • Dariush Ajami
    •  & Julius Rebek Jr

In Your Element

  • In Your Element |

    Long ago, a global search for borane superfuels led fortuitously to the discovery of carboranes. Ken Wade recalls his own undistinguished part in the space race, and notes how carboranes revitalized boron hydride chemistry and modified our ideas of chemical bonding.

    • Ken Wade