Volume 2 Issue 7, July 2010

Volume 2 Issue 7

A combined theoretical and experimental study by Matile and co-workers on a series of substituted naphthalenediimides reveals that increasing the pi-acidity of the aromatic system leads to stronger interactions with anions, and results in more effective and selective anion transport across lipid-bilayer membranes. Although the most pi-acidic compound used in this study is a dicyano derivative with a quadrupole moment of +39 Buckinghams, the cover image shows an artist's impression of an elusive +56 Buckinghams-aromatic system with four cyano groups (image courtesy of Roanna Dawson).

Cover design by Alex Wing/Nature Chemistry.

Article p533

News & Views p516


  • Editorial |

    As the beautiful game once again takes to the world stage this summer, it is worth remembering that 2010 also marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the professional debut of a very tiny football.

  • Editorial |

    Twitter is more than just the place to go to find out what celebrities have had for breakfast — if you look hard enough, it can be a useful source of chemistry news, highlights and debate.


  • Thesis |

    As we learn more about the complexities of water, Bruce Gibb argues that organic chemists shouldn't be afraid to take the plunge into aqueous environments.

    • Bruce C. Gibb

Research Highlights


News and Views

  • News & Views |

    A systematic study that combines both theory and experiment now provides direct evidence for the existence of anion–π interactions in compounds that facilitate the transport of anions across phospholipid membranes. This study offers new insight into the factors that affect the strength, selectivity and functional relevance of anion–π interactions.

    • Jeffery T. Davis
  • News & Views |

    A photo-reversible metal–semiconductor phase transition can be induced in a nanocrystalline transition-metal oxide at room temperature by short-wavelength light irradiation, holding promise for the development of new optical storage media.

    • Kosmas Prassides
  • News & Views |

    The plant-derived sesquiterpene englerin A is a potent inhibitor of several renal cancer cell lines. Two recent total syntheses have utilized cationic gold(I)-complexes to coax readily available open-chain precursors into englerin's challenging oxotricyclic core with enzyme-like precision.

    • Matthieu Willot
    •  & Mathias Christmann
  • News & Views |

    The catalytic reduction of atmospheric N2 to NH3 under mild conditions is one of the challenges of organometallic chemistry. An iron-based complex that binds and activates N2 has now been developed. Its electrochemistry and coordination properties shed light on potential mechanisms by which N2-to-NH3 reduction might be achieved.

    • Leslie D. Field
  • News & Views |

    The cell's dynamic skeleton, a tightly regulated network of protein fibres, continues to provide inspiration for the design of synthetic nanostructures. Genetic engineering has now been used to encode non-biological functionality within these structures.

    • Rein V. Ulijn
    •  & Pier-Francesco Caponi
  • News & Views |

    Ethers — such as the widely used tetrahydrofuran — are mostly known in chemistry labs as inert solvents. A bimetallic base has now been shown to dismember this simple cyclic ether, breaking six of its bonds and capturing all the atoms in quantitative products.

    • Jonathan Clayden
  • News & Views |

    Olefin metathesis is a flexible and efficient method for making carbon–carbon bonds and has found widespread application in academia and industry. Now, a detailed mechanistic study looking at key catalytic intermediates offers new insight into this reaction, and may prove useful in the development of more active and selective catalysts.

    • Jennifer A. Love


  • Perspective |

    Sunlight is potentially an ideal green 'reagent' for chemical synthesis, but poor absorption by organic substrates makes direct solar photochemistry generally inefficient. Here, recent progress in the use of the simple organometallic complexes to harness the power of the sun is summarized, and prospects for the future of this exciting field highlighted.

    • Tehshik P. Yoon
    • , Michael A. Ischay
    •  & Juana Du


  • Article |

    For quadrupole moments up to +39 Buckinghams, increasing π-acidity of aromatic surfaces is shown to cause tighter anion binding in tandem mass spectrometry experiments, higher binding energies in molecular models, stronger charge-transfer absorption bands, and increasingly effective and selective anion transport across lipid-bilayer membranes.

    • Ryan E. Dawson
    • , Andreas Hennig
    • , Dominik P. Weimann
    • , Daniel Emery
    • , Velayutham Ravikumar
    • , Javier Montenegro
    • , Toshihide Takeuchi
    • , Sandro Gabutti
    • , Marcel Mayor
    • , Jiri Mareda
    • , Christoph A. Schalley
    •  & Stefan Matile
  • Article |

    Optically driven phase transitions are widely used in optical memory devices, and the materials showing this effect are normally chalcogenides or organic compounds. Now a room-temperature light-induced phase transition between metal and semiconducting phases has been observed in a titanium oxide material.

    • Shin-ichi Ohkoshi
    • , Yoshihide Tsunobuchi
    • , Tomoyuki Matsuda
    • , Kazuhito Hashimoto
    • , Asuka Namai
    • , Fumiyoshi Hakoe
    •  & Hiroko Tokoro
  • Article |

    Iron is an abundant, low cost and environmentally benign metal. Here, iron complexes are shown to be the most effective catalysts for asymmetric O–H insertion reactions. These results should encourage the use of iron, rather than more traditional precious metals, in the development of greener organometallic catalysts for asymmetric transformations.

    • Shou-Fei Zhu
    • , Yan Cai
    • , Hong-Xiang Mao
    • , Jian-Hua Xie
    •  & Qi-Lin Zhou
  • Article |

    The difficulty in the stereoselective introduction of 1,2-cis-glycosides is a major stumbling block in the solid-supported synthesis of oligosaccharides. Now, this has been achieved for a biologically important glucoside containing multiple 1,2-cis-glycosidic linkages with complete anomeric control by using glycosyl donors having a participating (S)-(phenylthiomethyl)benzyl chiral auxiliary at C-2.

    • Thomas J. Boltje
    • , Jin-Hwan Kim
    • , Jin Park
    •  & Geert-Jan Boons
  • Article |

    In analogy to classical living polymerizations, the controlled formation of highly monodisperse cylindrical micelles — ranging from approximately 200 nm to 2 µm in length — has been demonstrated using very small and uniform crystallite seeds as initiators for the crystallization-driven living self-assembly of block copolymers with a crystallizable, core-forming metalloblock.

    • Joe B. Gilroy
    • , Torben Gädt
    • , George R. Whittell
    • , Laurent Chabanne
    • , John M. Mitchels
    • , Robert M. Richardson
    • , Mitchell A. Winnik
    •  & Ian Manners
  • Article |

    A kinetic and thermodynamic analysis of the ruthenium-catalysed ring-closing metathesis reaction has been achieved through the study of key intermediates accessible, for the first time, from 14-electron phosphonium alkylidene catalyst precursors. High intrinsic activities and a thermodynamic preference for ring-closing versus ring-opening reactions is observed.

    • Edwin F. van der Eide
    •  & Warren E. Piers
  • Article |

    Converting dioxygen into more reactive species is extremely useful for direct oxygenation of organic compounds, but doing this with cheap and non-polluting elements is difficult. Now, a carbene-activated silylene has been shown to activate dioxygen, resulting in the isolation of elusive silicon–oxygen species at room temperature.

    • Yun Xiong
    • , Shenglai Yao
    • , Robert Müller
    • , Martin Kaupp
    •  & Matthias Driess
  • Article |

    Thermal reduction of graphene oxide is an attractive route towards the preparation of graphene, but complete removal of residual oxygen is problematic. Now, molecular dynamics simulations elucidate the chemical changes involved in this process.

    • Akbar Bagri
    • , Cecilia Mattevi
    • , Muge Acik
    • , Yves J. Chabal
    • , Manish Chhowalla
    •  & Vivek B. Shenoy
  • Article |

    The development of benign methods for carbon–carbon bond formation is a continuing challenge. Here, a simple procedure for the hydroacylation of α,β-unsaturated esters is described, in which auto-oxidation of aldehydes and subsequent acyl radical addition to α,β-unsaturated esters occurs without the need for additional reagents.

    • Vijay Chudasama
    • , Richard J. Fitzmaurice
    •  & Stephen Caddick

In Your Element

  • In Your Element |

    Rhenium and technetium not only share the same group in the periodic table, but also have some common history relating to how they were — or indeed weren't — discovered. Eric Scerri explains.

    • Eric Scerri