Volume 1 Issue 8, November 2009

Volume 1 Issue 8

An amphiphile based on a perylene bisimide (a fluorescence acceptor) self-assembles in water to form vesicular nanocapsules that can trap a bispyrene compound (a fluorescence donor) inside their hollow cores, as shown on the cover of this issue. The donor molecules adopt one of two different conformations, depending on the pH of the solution, and each emits a different colour of light (either green or blue) when exposed to UV irradiation. In each conformation, the donors transfer some energy to the shell of the vesicle, which ultimately emits red light. The combination of emissions at pH 9 results in white fluorescence.

Cover design by Alex Wing/Nature Chemistry.

Article p623; News & Views p599


  • Editorial |

    Perceived lapses in the peer-review process often receive a lot of attention, but the majority of researchers declare themselves satisfied with the system. But if it is broken, how do we fix it?


  • Commentary |

    Each year since 1951, young researchers and Nobel Laureates have gathered on the shores of Lake Constance for a unique scientific conference. In 2009 the meeting was dedicated to chemistry, and Laureates and students all came away enriched by their experiences.

    • Martin Chalfie
  • Commentary |

    The Nobel Laureate Meetings held on the German island of Lindau bring together some of the world's brightest young minds with those individuals who have reached a pinnacle of scientific achievement. The impact of this unique event on all the delegates — especially the young researchers — is far-reaching.

    • Jeffrey R. Lancaster


  • Thesis |

    How long a road is it from physical chemistry to philosophy? Michelle Francl tries to find her way using charts of the intellectual world, old and new.

    • Michelle Francl

Books and Arts

Research Highlights


News and Views

  • News & Views |

    Identifying inhibitors of protein–protein interactions is an ongoing challenge in the field of drug design, but the use of peptide fragments based on a known binding interface is showing promise.

    • Dan L. Sackett
    •  & David Sept
  • News & Views |

    Chemists have long relied on techniques that give indirect hints and clues as to the structure of the molecules they study, but advances in scanning probe microscopy provide a glimpse of the individual atoms and bonds within pentacene.

    • Neil R. Champness
  • News & Views |

    Synthetic vesicles with membranes made from amphiphiles that are fluorescence acceptors encapsulate donor molecules in their cores, and emit different proportions of red, blue and green light depending on pH. The balance of these coloured emissions at pH 9 results in white fluorescence.

    • Naomi Sakai
    •  & Stefan Matile
  • News & Views |

    Inorganic semiconductors have long been used to construct rectifying diodes, but making them out of single molecules has remained a challenge. Now, two separate studies have induced rectification behaviour within molecular systems through different approaches.

    • David Janes
  • News & Views |

    The host–guest properties of metal–organic frameworks have usually relied on molecular separation by the pore aperture or non-specific binding with the pore walls. Incorporating supramolecular recognition units into the frameworks has now enabled the docking of a specific guest.

    • Kimoon Kim


  • Perspective |

    Altering the properties of materials by using an external signal, such as light, heat or mechanical stress, is attractive for the preparation of functional materials in diverse fields. This Perspective focuses on liquid and solid materials that change the colour of their luminescence under mechanical pressure, and highlights the structural changes involved.

    • Yoshimitsu Sagara
    •  & Takashi Kato


  • Review Article |

    The development of general synthetic strategies for the prepartion of oligonucleotides and peptides has enabled them to be made routinely — often using automated systems. Making complex oligosaccharides is much less straightforward, but advances in areas such as one-pot multi-step protecting-group manipulations, stereoselective glycosylation protocols and chemo-enzymatic methods are offering new opportunities for carbohydrate chemistry.

    • Thomas J. Boltje
    • , Therese Buskas
    •  & Geert-Jan Boons


  • Article |

    Artificial vesicles consisting of encapsulated fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-donor molecules and a FRET-acceptor bilayer dye-membrane provide ultrasensitive pH information in aqueous media by displaying pH-dependent fluorescence colour covering the entire visible light range. An exceptional white fluorescence was observed at pH 9.

    • Xin Zhang
    • , Stefanie Rehm
    • , Marina M. Safont-Sempere
    •  & Frank Würthner
  • Article |

    Small peptide-derived catalysts are shown to be effective in the enantioselective sulfonylation of polyols. The observation that, using closely related catalysts, enantiotopic alcohols can be phosphorylated or sulfonylated, raises questions about the details of catalyst–substrate recognition and, from a biomimetic standpoint, the role of histidine residues in enzyme active sites.

    • Kristin Williams Fiori
    • , Angela L. A. Puchlopek
    •  & Scott J. Miller
  • Article |

    The properties of molecular electronic devices can be tuned by tailoring the structures of the molecules from which they are built. Researchers now show that two closely related molecules — each containing a string of four aryl groups — behave very differently when strung between gold electrodes, with the non-symmetrical structure leading to diode-like behaviour.

    • Ismael Díez-Pérez
    • , Joshua Hihath
    • , Youngu Lee
    • , Luping Yu
    • , Lyudmyla Adamska
    • , Mortko A. Kozhushner
    • , Ivan I. Oleynik
    •  & Nongjian Tao
  • Article |

    The development of molecules that target protein–protein interactions is one of the main goals of contemporary medicinal chemistry. Computational alanine scanning and molecular dynamics now leads to the identification of two peptide sequences that are important in microtubule assembly, and shows that the in silico activity can be translated into in vitro activity.

    • Stefano Pieraccini
    • , Giorgio Saladino
    • , Graziella Cappelletti
    • , Daniele Cartelli
    • , Pierangelo Francescato
    • , Giovanna Speranza
    • , Paolo Manitto
    •  & Maurizio Sironi
  • Article |

    The properties of surfaces can be tailored by coating them with a thin film of molecules, for example by forming self-assembled monolayers. Now, researchers have shown how dynamic covalent chemistry can be used to reversibly pattern different compounds on to a surface with a high degree of spatial control to produce molecular gradients.

    • Lara Tauk
    • , André P. Schröder
    • , Gero Decher
    •  & Nicolas Giuseppone
  • Article |

    Plastic solar cells contain a blend of conjugated polymer and fullerene electron-acceptor material that phase separates, resulting in the formation of heterojunctions. Improving the performance of these devices requires an understanding of the blend morphology. Now researchers show how a microwave-assisted synthesis method can be used to create structurally diverse copolymers enabling the investigation of their structure–function relationship.

    • Robert C. Coffin
    • , Jeff Peet
    • , James Rogers
    •  & Guillermo C. Bazan
  • Article |

    The ability to study structural changes of DNA in live cells is of considerable interest. Here, a dinuclear ruthenium (II) complex that acts as a multifunctional stain for DNA and its use in both luminescence and transmission electron microscopy studies is described.

    • Martin R. Gill
    • , Jorge Garcia-Lara
    • , Simon J. Foster
    • , Carl Smythe
    • , Giuseppe Battaglia
    •  & Jim A. Thomas

In Your Element

  • In Your Element |

    Eric Scerri recounts the story of element 87, which after a number of false starts was finally tracked down in France — and named in its honour.

    • Eric Scerri