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Volume 11 Issue 8, August 2019

Imaging reactions using competitive chemistry

Super-resolved fluorescence microscopy can only interrogate entities that fluoresce. Now, a technique developed by Peng Chen and co-workers that is based on a competition strategy enables quantitative super-resolution visualization of nonfluorescent processes. The cover image is an artistic representation — based on such imaging — showing a single catalyst particle with 12 different degrees of competition between a target nonfluorescent reaction and an auxiliary fluorescent reaction.

See Mao et al

IMAGE: Xianwen Mao, Cornell University. COVER DESIGN: Tulsi Voralia


  • When lightning strikes, Bruce C. Gibb reminds us that not only do sparks fly, but there’s also some chemistry going on too.

    • Bruce C. Gibb


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News & Views

  • Aqueous batteries hold promise for large-scale energy storage, but are often maligned because of their low energy densities. Now, a demonstration of halogen conversion–intercalation chemistry inside graphite has blazed a trail for high-energy aqueous batteries.

    • Xianyong Wu
    • Xiulei Ji
    News & Views
  • The chemical functionality necessary for the origin of life may have emerged from simple reactions assembled into complex networks. Now, it has been shown that prebiotically relevant heterogeneous reaction networks can generate robust oscillations within complex mixtures comprised of precursors that do not oscillate on their own.

    • Nathaniel Wagner
    • Gonen Ashkenasy
    News & Views
  • Scientific progress often relies on applying published methodological advances to different problems. With the aim of improving both the uptake and reproducibility of chemical transformations, a new assessment tool has now been developed that provides a clear and easy-to-interpret overview of common factors that affect a synthetic method.

    • James J. Douglas
    News & Views
  • Precipitation processes enable the fast preparation of a variety of inorganic materials, although typically with little control over their morphology. Now, their one-, two- or three-dimensional growth has been promoted simply by tuning the electrolytic dissociation of the reactants and the supersaturation of the solution.

    • Mihui Park
    • Gi-Hyeok Lee
    • Yong-Mook Kang
    News & Views
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  • Super-resolution fluorescence microscopy techniques can interrogate entities that fluoresce; however, most chemical or biological processes do not involve fluorescent species. Now, the incorporation of a competitive reaction into a single-molecule fluorescence detection scheme has been shown to enable quantitative super-resolution imaging of non-fluorescent reactions.

    • Xianwen Mao
    • Chunming Liu
    • Peng Chen
  • Precipitation enables the straightforward production of a variety of inorganic materials, but the rapid reaction rates involved typically make controlling their morphologies difficult. Now, the growth of either one-, two- or three-dimensional materials has been promoted by tuning of the reactants’ electrolytic dissociation and solution supersaturation, without the need for capping agents and templates.

    • Wei-Hong Lai
    • Yun-Xiao Wang
    • Shi-Xue Dou
  • The production of ammonia from dinitrogen is a well-studied process; however, the catalytic conversion of ammonia into dinitrogen is underdeveloped. Now, ammonia oxidation has been achieved using ruthenium complexes as catalysts. The production of dinitrogen is observed when ammonium salts are treated with a single-electron oxidant, base and ruthenium catalyst.

    • Kazunari Nakajima
    • Hiroki Toda
    • Yoshiaki Nishibayashi
  • Although methods exist to construct secondary stereocentres containing both a C–F and C–H bond, the ability to form a tertiary C–F bond, remote from pre-existing activating groups, remains challenging. Now, C–F tertiary, benzylic stereocentres have been constructed through a Pd-catalysed enantioselective Heck reaction of acyclic alkenyl fluorides with arylboronic acids.

    • Jianbo Liu
    • Qianjia Yuan
    • Matthew S. Sigman
  • Quantum coherence and dephasing in molecular motions determine the behaviour of many chemical reactions and are the fundamental basis for the concept of coherent control. Now, ultrafast X-ray scattering combined with a detailed structural determination analysis precisely measures the coherent vibrational motions of a polyatomic organic molecule following photoexcitation.

    • Brian Stankus
    • Haiwang Yong
    • Peter M. Weber
  • Vibrational and translational energies have previously been observed to promote reactions at surfaces occurring via dissociative mechanisms. Now, it has been shown that the reaction of CO2 with surface-adsorbed atomic hydrogen—which occurs via an associative (Eley–Rideal-type) mechanism—can be driven by vibrationally exciting CO2.

    • Jiamei Quan
    • Fahdzi Muttaqien
    • Junji Nakamura
  • A method for engineering chemically modified proteins has now been developed using a chemoenzymatic cascade of sortase-mediated transpeptidation and protein trans-splicing. Using this one-pot approach enabled the generation of site-specifically modified proteins in vitro and in isolated cell nuclei.

    • Robert E. Thompson
    • Adam J. Stevens
    • Tom. W. Muir
  • The F + para-H2 → HF + H reaction is an important source of HF in interstellar clouds; however, its unusually high rate and its dynamics at low temperature are not fully understood. Now, quantum-state resolved crossed-beam scattering measurements and anion photoelectron spectroscopy have revealed that this reactivity is caused by a resonance-enhanced tunnelling effect involving a post-barrier resonance state.

    • Tiangang Yang
    • Long Huang
    • Daniel M. Neumark
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