Volume 2 Issue 9, September 2010

Volume 2 Issue 9

Nuclear power is a key element of our energy mix, and uranium nitride [U≡N]x is a promising alternate nuclear fuel; however, very little is known about the U≡N functionality. Now, Kiplinger, Batista and co-workers have made a uranium azide complex that interacts with light to lose dinitrogen and produce a transient uranium nitride complex (shown conceptually on the cover). This is the first uranium nitride compound to be accessed through photolysis. Image courtesy of Anthony Mancino.

Cover design by Alex Wing/Nature Chemistry.

Article p723

News & Views p705


  • Editorial |

    The importance of an up to date and easy to find website should not be underestimated by scientists looking to establish links to others in their community — and represents good value for relatively little effort.


  • Thesis |

    It might come as a disappointment to some chemists, but just as there are uncertainties in physics and mathematics, there are some chemistry questions we may never know the answer to either, suggests Fredric M. Menger.

    • Fredric M. Menger

Books and Arts

Research Highlights


News and Views

  • News & Views |

    The aggregation of proteins into fibrils plays a crucial role in neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease. Further insight into fibril formation has now been gained that reveals the effect of hydrophobic surfaces, including air.

    • Ian W. Hamley
  • News & Views |

    Interlocking molecules in solution usually requires recognition motifs that direct the assembly of the building blocks. Triply interlocked catenanes have now been constructed just relying on the interpenetration of structures typical of the solid state and slow reversible covalent bond formation.

    • Jonathan E. Beves
    •  & David A. Leigh
  • News & Views |

    A highly basic gold catalyst has been shown to mediate the reaction of aromatic C–H bonds with carbon dioxide. The reaction provides a potential method of fixing atmospheric carbon dioxide and producing valuable chemical products.

    • Derek M Dalton
    •  & Tomislav Rovis
  • News & Views |

    The oxygen-evolving centre in the protein complex photosystem II involves Ca2+ within a high-valent oxomanganese cluster, but the role of Ca2+ has yet to be clarified. Interestingly, the electron-transfer behaviour of a non-haem oxoiron(IV) complex has now been found to be significantly altered by Lewis acid metal-ion binding to the oxo atom.

    • Kenneth D. Karlin


  • Review Article |

    Aerosol particles are crucially important to the chemistry of the atmosphere, influencing both climate and air quality. This Review discusses progress in understanding the radical-initiated heterogeneous oxidation of atmospheric aerosols, focusing on the reaction mechanisms and kinetics, and also their effects on the physico-chemical properties of particles.

    • I. J. George
    •  & J. P. D. Abbatt


  • Article |

    The chemistry of the U≡N species is little known, even though solid uranium nitride has been proposed for use as a nuclear fuel. Now, photolysis of a uranium azide complex has been shown to release N2 and generate a transient U≡N fragment that can activate C–H bonds.

    • Robert K. Thomson
    • , Thibault Cantat
    • , Brian L. Scott
    • , David E. Morris
    • , Enrique R. Batista
    •  & Jaqueline L. Kiplinger
  • Article |

    Steps are known to be important sites on the surface of heterogeneous catalysts. Now it is shown that the density of steps on a palladium surface can alter its stability, and thus reactivity, and is key to understanding the oscillatory behaviour of the CO oxidation reaction at atmospheric pressure.

    • Bas L. M. Hendriksen
    • , Marcelo D. Ackermann
    • , Richard van Rijn
    • , Dunja Stoltz
    • , Ioana Popa
    • , Olivier Balmes
    • , Andrea Resta
    • , Didier Wermeille
    • , Roberto Felici
    • , Salvador Ferrer
    •  & Joost W. M. Frenken
  • Article |

    A Lewis-acid-catalysed 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition provides rapid access to a variety of substituted spirooxindoles. Initial cellular evaluations supports the view that compound collections based on natural-product-inspired scaffolds constructed with complex stereochemistry, and decorated with assorted substituents, will be a rich source of compounds with diverse bioactivity.

    • Andrey P. Antonchick
    • , Claas Gerding-Reimers
    • , Mario Catarinella
    • , Markus Schürmann
    • , Hans Preut
    • , Slava Ziegler
    • , Daniel Rauh
    •  & Herbert Waldmann
  • Article |

    Although intermetallic compounds and alloys feature metal atoms bonded solely to other metal atoms, this motif is unusual in molecular compounds. Now, three compounds with lanthanide metals surrounded by transition metal atoms have been made. Although reactive, they mimic intermetallic bonding and form a conceptual link from coordination compounds.

    • Mikhail V. Butovskii
    • , Christian Döring
    • , Viktor Bezugly
    • , Frank R. Wagner
    • , Yuri Grin
    •  & Rhett Kempe
  • Article |

    The assembly and evaluation of molecular structures on surfaces has been boosted by advances in single-molecule techniques. The development of such methods are continued here, showing that double-stranded DNA, bound to the tip of an atomic force microscope, can be deposited on the surface of a gold electrode using an electrical trigger.

    • Matthias Erdmann
    • , Ralf David
    • , Ann R. Fornof
    •  & Hermann E. Gaub
  • Article |

    Interlocked molecules commonly include one (or more) monocyclic component — examples comprising bicyclic or tricyclic structures are much more rare and usually involve metal–ligand coordination or additional templates. Now, the dynamic self-assembly of twenty organic molecules in a one-pot synthesis has been shown to produce tetrahedral covalent cages, which interpenetrate during the process to form triply interlocked dimers.

    • Tom Hasell
    • , Xiaofeng Wu
    • , James T. A. Jones
    • , John Bacsa
    • , Alexander Steiner
    • , Tamoghna Mitra
    • , Abbie Trewin
    • , Dave J. Adams
    •  & Andrew I. Cooper
  • Article |

    The interactions of metal ions with metaloxo species are crucial in many important biological processes, such as the oxygen-evolving complex (OEC) in photosystem II, but their exact function remains elusive. Now, the binding of metal ions to a non-haem oxoiron complex has been studied and the observed changes to its electron-transfer properties provide insights into the active site of the OEC.

    • Shunichi Fukuzumi
    • , Yuma Morimoto
    • , Hiroaki Kotani
    • , Panče Naumov
    • , Yong-Min Lee
    •  & Wonwoo Nam
  • Article |

    In nature, enzymes can orchestrate the combination of several different catalytic species, but mimicking this with synthetic catalysts is often problematic due to undesirable interactions between the catalysts. Here, an N-heterocyclic carbene and a Lewis acid cooperate to catalyse the efficient formation of γ-lactams.

    • Dustin E. A. Raup
    • , Benoit Cardinal-David
    • , Dane Holte
    •  & Karl A. Scheidt
  • Article |

    Whereas synthetic DNA nanostructures are widely studied, the use of RNA as a structural building block is much less common. Now, it has been shown that tRNA molecules can be designed to assemble into a rigid and thermally stable square antiprism structure that may prove useful for delivery applications inside cells.

    • Isil Severcan
    • , Cody Geary
    • , Arkadiusz Chworos
    • , Neil Voss
    • , Erica Jacovetty
    •  & Luc Jaeger
  • Article |

    The wealth of solution-chemistry properties of a well-known M6L4 coordination cage can be transferred into the solid state by networking the cage into a highly porous crystalline structure. The material behaves as a ‘fullerene sponge’, absorbing up to 35 wt% of C60 or C70 into the crystal, with a preference for C70 when exposed to mixtures of the two.

    • Yasuhide Inokuma
    • , Tatsuhiko Arai
    •  & Makoto Fujita
  • Article |

    Xenon difluoride is one of the most stable noble-gas fluoride compounds with a simple linear molecular structure. It has now been shown to undergo several phase transitions at high pressures to give extended solids and even a metallic phase containing XeF8 polyhedra.

    • Minseob Kim
    • , Mathew Debessai
    •  & Choong-Shik Yoo

In Your Element

  • In Your Element |

    As a rare and precious metal that is also resistant to wear and tarnish, platinum is known to be particularly well-suited to jewellery. Vivian Yam reflects on how, beyond its prestigious image, platinum has also found its way into a variety of fields ranging from the petrochemical to the pharmaceutical industry.

    • Vivian W. W. Yam