Physical chemistry

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Tracking single molecule movements is a challenging task, but highly desired for applications and fundamental studies. Here the authors reconstruct the sub-angstrom relative movements of a molecule interacting with a metal adatom, by measuring its vibrational spectrum in a self-assembled monolayer, continuously modified by the adatom in a nanoparticle-on-mirror construct.

    • Jack Griffiths
    • , Tamás Földes
    •  & Jeremy J. Baumberg
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ion storage rings allow reactions to be studied over orders of magnitude in time, bridging the gap between typical experimental and astronomical timescales. Here the authors observe that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon fragments produced upon collision with He atoms at velocities typical of stellar winds and supernova shockwaves remain intact up to second timescales, thus may play an important role in interstellar chemistry.

    • Michael Gatchell
    • , João Ameixa
    •  & Henning Zettergren
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Compounds featuring long-lived luminescence have potential applications in a variety of fields, including anti-counterfeiting and switches. Here the authors report a lanthanide-based compound that exhibits phosphorescence observable by the naked eye for up to 30 s at 77 K; On-off continuous irradiation cycles reveal a charging behaviour associated with triplet-triplet absorption, showing a shorter rise lifetime than the decay lifetime.

    • Waygen Thor
    • , Yue Wu
    •  & Ka-Leung Wong
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Exciton-polaritons are typically formed in organic systems when the molecules are confined between metallic or dielectric mirrors. Here, the authors reveal that interactions between excitons and moderately confined photonic states within the bare organic film can also lead to polariton formation, making them the primary photoexcitation.

    • Raj Pandya
    • , Richard Y. S. Chen
    •  & Akshay Rao
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Knowing how individual water molecules interact with surfaces is crucial for understanding surface and interface phenomena. Here, the authors show how local water-water interactions enable an unforeseen and surprisingly rapid mechanism of atom exchange between a common mineral and its surroundings.

    • Zdenek Jakub
    • , Matthias Meier
    •  & Gareth S. Parkinson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The most common oxidation state for lanthanides is +3. Here the authors use photoelectron spectroscopy and theoretical calculations to study half-sandwich complexes where a lanthanide center in the oxidation state +1 is bound to an aromatic wheel-like B82- ligand.

    • Wan-Lu Li
    • , Teng-Teng Chen
    •  & Lai-Sheng Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The stereoselective analysis of mixtures of chiral compounds typically requires time-consuming chromatography. Here, the authors combine reaction based chiroptical sensing and chemometric tools to directly determine the absolute configuration, enantiomeric composition and concentration of convoluted samples without physical separation.

    • Diandra S. Hassan
    •  & Christian Wolf
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Understanding the source of vibrationally excited molecular hydrogen is an essential prerequisite for understanding the chemical evolution in the universe. Here the authors report a photodissociation pathway to produce vibrationally excited H2 via the water photochemistry.

    • Yao Chang
    • , Feng An
    •  & Xueming Yang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Living cells can harvest environmental energy to drive chemical processes. Here the authors design a minimal artificial system that achieves steady states at similar metabolic densities to microorganisms.

    • Andrea Testa
    • , Mirco Dindo
    •  & Paola Laurino
  • Article
    | Open Access

    In this manuscript, Negri, Zheng, Casado et al develop a stable and flexible diradical. Using a combination of experimental and theoretical techniques, they show how heating leads to change in the electronic and spin delocalizations ocurring between quinoidal and aromatic forms, and elucidate a unique spin-vibrational coupling.

    • Yi Shen
    • , Guodong Xue
    •  & Juan Casado
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons play an important role in interstellar chemistry, where interaction with high energy photons can induce ionization and fragmentation reactions. Here the authors, with XUV-IR pump-probe experiments, investigate the ultrafast photoinduced dynamics of fluorene, phenanthrene and pyrene, providing insight into their preferred reaction channels.

    • J. W. L. Lee
    • , D. S. Tikhonov
    •  & M. Schnell
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Identifying a concerted or stepwise mechanism in Diels–Alder reactions is experimentally challenging. Here the authors demonstrate the coexistence of both mechanisms in the reaction of 2,3-dibromobuta-1,3-diene with propene ions, using a conformationally controlled molecular beam reacting with trapped ions and ab initio computations

    • Ardita Kilaj
    • , Jia Wang
    •  & Stefan Willitsch
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Molecular chaperones from the Hsp70 family can break up protein aggregates, including amyloids. Here, the authors utilize microfluidic diffusional sizing to assess the mechanism of α-synuclein (αS) disaggregation by the Hsc70–DnaJB1–Apg2 system, and show that single αS molecules are removed directly from the fibril ends.

    • Matthias M. Schneider
    • , Saurabh Gautam
    •  & Tuomas P. J. Knowles
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Creating atomically-precise quantum architectures with high digital fidelity and desired quantum states is an important goal for quantum technology applications. Here the authors devise an on-surface synthetic protocol to construct atomically-precise covalently linked organic quantum corrals with the formation of a series of new quantum resonance states.

    • Xinnan Peng
    • , Harshitra Mahalingam
    •  & Jiong Lu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Aqueous solutions under nanoscale confinement exhibit interesting physicochemical properties. This work reports evidence on the spontaneous formation of two-dimensional alkali chloride crystalline/non-crystalline nanostructures in dilute aqueous solution under nanoscale confinement by computer simulations.

    • Wenhui Zhao
    • , Yunxiang Sun
    •  & Xiao Cheng Zeng
  • Article
    | Open Access

    High-nitrogen content polyhedral molecules are of fundamental interest for theory and for synthesis applications. The authors, using isomer selective, tunable soft photoionization reflectron time-of-flight mass spectrometry, identify the formation of a hitherto elusive prismatic P3N3 molecule during sublimation of PH3 and N2 ice mixtures exposed to energetic electrons.

    • Cheng Zhu
    • , André K. Eckhardt
    •  & Ralf I. Kaiser
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ultrafast diffraction is fundamental in capturing the structural dynamics of molecules. Here, the authors establish a variant of quantum state tomography for arbitrary degrees of freedom to characterize the molecular quantum states, which will enable the reconstruction of a quantum molecular movie from diffraction data.

    • Ming Zhang
    • , Shuqiao Zhang
    •  & Zheng Li
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Commonly, large π-conjugated systems facilitate low-energy electronic transitions. Here, the authors demonstrate that the relief of excited-state antiaromaticity of the benzene core leads to large Stokes shifts, and allows the construction of emitters covering the entire visible spectrum without the need of extending π-conjugation.

    • Heechan Kim
    • , Woojin Park
    •  & Dongwhan Lee
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Here, the authors use solid-state NMR and EPR measurements to characterise the ATP hydrolysis transition state of the oligomeric bacterial DnaB helicase from Helicobacter pylori, which was trapped by using aluminium fluoride as a chemical mimic. They identify protein protons that coordinate to the phosphate groups of ADP and DNA and observe that the aluminium fluoride unit is highly mobile and fast-rotating.

    • Alexander A. Malär
    • , Nino Wili
    •  & Thomas Wiegand
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The analysis of NMR spectra of complex biochemical samples with respect to individual resonances is challenging but critically important. Here, the authors present a deep learning-based method that accelerates this process also for crowded NMR data that are non-trivial to analyze, even by expert NMR spectroscopists.

    • Da-Wei Li
    • , Alexandar L. Hansen
    •  & Rafael Brüschweiler
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Shock-wave driven reactions of organic molecules may have played a key role in prebiotic chemistry, but their mechanisms are difficult to investigate. The authors, using time-resolved x-ray diffraction and small-angle x-ray scattering experiments, observe the transformation of liquid benzene during a shock, identifying carbon and hydrocarbon solid products.

    • D. M. Dattelbaum
    • , E. B. Watkins
    •  & R. L. Sandberg
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A complete understanding of singlet fission (SF) in molecular materials will enable the design of optimised optoelectronic devices. Here, the authors use vacancy control in acene-based blends to link coherent and incoherent SF pathways to energetics.

    • Clemens Zeiser
    • , Chad Cruz
    •  & Katharina Broch
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Radiationless relaxation is ubiquitous in natural processes and often involves excited states that are difficult to observe. Here the authors, combining X-ray transient absorption spectroscopy and computations, provide insight into the photoinduced dynamics in pyrazine and the involvement of an optically dark 1Au(nπ*) state.

    • Valeriu Scutelnic
    • , Shota Tsuru
    •  & Stephen R. Leone
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The roaming reaction is a common process in the gas phase and in solution, but observation of the involved atomic movements has been challenging. The authors, using femtosecond time-resolved X-ray liquidography, resolve the detailed structural dynamics at the onset of a roaming reaction in the photoinduced isomerization of BiI3 in solution.

    • Eun Hyuk Choi
    • , Jong Goo Kim
    •  & Hyotcherl Ihee
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Wear reduction in diamond-like carbon interacting with ZDDP-additivated oils is essential for current automotive applications. Here, the authors present an atomic-scale study revealing that this can be achieved by tailoring diamond-like carbon’s stiffness, surface nano-topography, and hydrogen content.

    • Valentin R. Salinas Ruiz
    • , Takuya Kuwahara
    •  & Maria-Isabel de Barros Bouchet
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The photodissociation dynamics of small molecules in the vacuum ultraviolet range can have key implications for astrochemical modelling, but revealing such dynamical details is a challenging task. Here the authors, combining high resolution experimental techniques, provide a detailed description of the fragmentation dynamics of selected rotational levels of a predissociated Rydberg state of H2S.

    • Yarui Zhao
    • , Zijie Luo
    •  & Xueming Yang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Adsorption is a fundamentally important process but challenging to quantify, especially at the nanoscale. Here, the authors map the adsorption affinity and cooperativity of various ligands on single gold nanoparticles and discover adsorption crossover behaviors between different facets, leading to a strategy to control particle shape.

    • Rong Ye
    • , Ming Zhao
    •  & Peng Chen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Reactions at the interface between mineral surfaces and flowing liquids are ubiquitous in nature. Here the authors explore, using surface-specific sum frequency generation spectroscopy and numeric calculations, how the liquid flow affects the charging and dissolution rates leading to flow-dependent charge gradients along the surface.

    • Patrick Ober
    • , Willem Q. Boon
    •  & Mischa Bonn
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Nuclear spin polarization and relaxation can be studied using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Here the authors demonstrate a combination of fast-field cycling and optical magnetometry techniques, to realize a NMR sensor that operates in the region of very low frequency and high relaxation rate.

    • Sven Bodenstedt
    • , Morgan W. Mitchell
    •  & Michael C. D. Tayler
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Extension of nanostructure fabrication in the single-nm regime is a promising but fabrication of nanostructures with high aspect ratios remains challenging. Here, the authors use high energy charged particles to produce free-standing 1D organic nanostructures with extremely high aspect ratios and controlled number density.

    • Koshi Kamiya
    • , Kazuto Kayama
    •  & Shu Seki
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Quantum-mechanical methods of benchmark quality are widely used for describing molecular interactions. The present work shows that interaction energies by CCSD(T) and DMC are not in consistent agreement for a set of polarizable supramolecules calling for cooperative efforts solving this conundrum.

    • Yasmine S. Al-Hamdani
    • , Péter R. Nagy
    •  & Alexandre Tkatchenko
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The H3+ ion plays a key role in interstellar chemistry and can be formed from organic compounds upon interaction with charged particles or radiation. Here the authors demonstrate that H3+ can also be formed from water adsorbed on silica nanoparticles exposed to intense laser pulses, conditions that mimic the impact of charged particles on dust in astrophysical settings.

    • M. Said Alghabra
    • , Rami Ali
    •  & Ali S. Alnaser
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Active coacervate droplets are droplets coupled to a chemical reaction that maintains them out of equilibrium, which can be used to drive active processes, but coacervates are still subject to passive processes that compete with or mask growth. Here, the authors present a nucleotide-based model for active coacervate droplets that form and grow by fuel-driven synthesis of ATP, and, importantly, do not undergo Ostwald ripening.

    • Karina K. Nakashima
    • , Merlijn H. I. van Haren
    •  & Evan Spruijt
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Oxidative allylic C–H functionalizations minimise the need for functional group activation and generate alkenyl-substituted products amenable to further chemical modifications. Here the authors report an oxidant-free, electrocatalytic approach to achieve intramolecular oxidative allylic C–H amination and alkylation by employing tailored cobalt-salen complexes as catalysts.

    • Chen-Yan Cai
    • , Zheng-Jian Wu
    •  & Hai-Chao Xu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Photon upconversion in lanthanide-doped nanoparticles enables important technological developments. Here the authors demonstrate a mechanism leading to enhanced upconversion emission in core-shell nanoparticles, and long-distance energy transfer between nanoparticles, through triplet state population of an organic surface ligand.

    • Sanyang Han
    • , Zhigao Yi
    •  & Xiaogang Liu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Femtosecond time-resolved X-ray solution scattering (fs-TRXSS) measurements provide information on the structural dynamics of proteins in solution. Here, the authors present a structure refinement method for the analysis of fs-TRXSS data and use it to characterise the ultrafast structural changes of homodimeric haemoglobin.

    • Yunbeom Lee
    • , Jong Goo Kim
    •  & Hyotcherl Ihee
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Fluorogenic RNA aptamers such as Chili display strong fluorescence enhancement upon aptamer–ligand complex formation. Here, the authors provide insights into the mechanism of fluorescence activation of Chili by solving the crystal structures of Chili with its bound positively charged ligands DMHBO+ and DMHBI+, and they reveal that Chili uses an excited state proton transfer mechanism based on time-resolved optical spectroscopy measurements.

    • Mateusz Mieczkowski
    • , Christian Steinmetzger
    •  & Claudia Höbartner
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The subtle connections between water’s supercooled liquid and glassy states are difficult to characterize. Gartner et al. suggest with MD simulations that the long-range structure of glassy water may reflect signatures of water’s debated second critical point in the supercooled liquid.

    • Thomas E. Gartner III
    • , Salvatore Torquato
    •  & Pablo G. Debenedetti
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Realizing ultra-high work functions (UHWFs) in hole-doped polymer semiconductors remains a challenge due to water-oxidation reactions. Here, the authors determine the role of water-anion complexes in limiting the work function and develop a design strategy for realizing UHWF polymers.

    • Qi-Mian Koh
    • , Cindy Guanyu Tang
    •  & Peter K. H. Ho
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Vibrational energy transfer (VET) is essential for protein function as it is responsible for efficient energy dissipation in reaction sites and is linked to pathways of allosteric communication. Here authors equipped a tryptophan zipper with a VET injector and a VET sensor for femtosecond pump probe experiments to map the VET.

    • Erhan Deniz
    • , Luis Valiño-Borau
    •  & Jens Bredenbeck