Making light work of bridge repairs

The degradation pathway of a hydrogen-evolving RuPt photocatalyst has been identified, enabling the development of an active repair strategy to reoxidize the deactivated bridging ligand.


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    The 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Benjamin List and David MacMillan for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis. In recognition of this award, Nature Portfolio presents a collection of research, review and opinion articles that focus on the origins, the development and the future directions inspired by the topic.

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  • Oscillations are widespread throughout the natural world and a number of fascinating inorganic oscillating reactions are known—but the formation and control of oscillating, self-replicating synthetic systems has remained challenging. Now, it has been shown that chemically fuelled oscillations within a network of organic replicators can drive supramolecular assembly and disassembly.

    • Michael G. Howlett
    • Anthonius H. J. Engwerda
    • Stephen P. Fletcher
  • Despite much research, the high-spin-state relaxation mechanism of Fe(II) spin-crossover complexes is unresolved. Using ultrafast circular dichroism spectroscopy it has now been revealed that the spin relaxation is driven by a torsional twisting mode, which breaks the chiral symmetry of a prototypical Fe(II) compound. Stereocontrolling the configuration of the complex can thus be used to slow down the spin relaxation.

    • Malte Oppermann
    • Francesco Zinna
    • Majed Chergui
  • A general copper-catalysed enantioconvergent C(sp3)–C(sp) cross-coupling of diverse racemic tertiary alkyl halides with terminal alkynes has been developed, forging all-carbon quaternary stereocentres. Key to the success is the rational design of chiral anionic N,N,N-ligands tailor-made for the computationally predicted outer-sphere radical group transfer pathway.

    • Fu-Li Wang
    • Chang-Jiang Yang
    • Xin-Yuan Liu
  • Phytochromes regulate plant growth by sensing far-red light through the photoisomerization of their protein-bound chromophores. In the phytochrome Agp2, it has now been demonstrated that ultrafast proton-transfer occurs from the chromophore to a protein–water network before photoisomerization, inducing protein changes on the ultrafast timescale. These protein changes develop further on longer timescales, resulting in an activated protein conformation.

    • Yang Yang
    • Till Stensitzki
    • Karsten Heyne
    Article Open Access
  • Many bioactive compounds are trisubstituted macrocyclic alkenes, but use of current methods often results in poor yields and low stereoselectivity. Now, a ring-closing metathesis strategy has been developed that enables these compounds to be prepared efficiently and in either stereoisomeric form: an approach that may prove useful in the late stages of total syntheses, for skeletal editing and in drug discovery.

    • Yucheng Mu
    • Felix W. W. Hartrampf
    • Amir H. Hoveyda
  • Preorganized electric fields may be essential for the extraordinary catalytic power of enzymes. Now, it has been demonstrated how electric field strengths can be monitored along two directions using a vibrational Stark probe, enabling the observation of distinct electric field orientations in an enzyme active site compared with those in simple solvents.

    • Chu Zheng
    • Yuezhi Mao
    • Steven G. Boxer
    • The rational synthesis of organic nanotubes and their hierarchical architectures has remained challenging. Now, one-dimensional hollow covalent organic frameworks have been prepared that can further assemble into toroid-shaped materials.

      • Gabrielle A. Leith
      • Natalia B. Shustova
      News & Views
    • Understanding how surface structure affects catalyst selectivity is limited by the ability to synthesize atomically precise active-site ensembles. Now, by using intermetallic Pd–Zn, a series of well-defined multinuclear Pd–metal–Pd catalytic sites have been generated and studied, providing insights into their selectivity for the semi-hydrogenation of acetylene.

      • Max Mortensen
      • Siris Laursen
      News & Views
    • Molecular photocatalysts for generating solar fuels such as hydrogen degrade over time, ceasing to function as intended. Now the mechanism by which a ruthenium–platinum-based hydrogen-evolving photocatalyst breaks down has been identified, leading to the development of a repair strategy that uses singlet oxygen to regenerate an inactivated bridging ligand.

      • Claudia Turro
      News & Views
    • Enzymes, either purified or as whole-cell biocatalysts, can be concatenated into catalytic cascades and used to produce pharmaceutically relevant molecules. This Review discusses the advantages and requirements of multistep enzyme cascades and also highlights how they can be harnessed to achieve highly sustainable and cost-efficient syntheses.

      • Ana I. Benítez-Mateos
      • David Roura Padrosa
      • Francesca Paradisi
      Review Article
    • Extending mass spectrometry measurements of biomolecules into the megadalton regime is challenging due to the limited resolving power of currently used mass analysers. Now, using single ion-charge detection Orbitrap mass spectrometry, a mass accuracy of 0.001% has been demonstrated for protein particles larger than 9 MDa.

      • Muhammad A. Zenaidee
      • Joseph A. Loo
      News & Views
  • In 2017 Professor Frances S. Ligler was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for her inventions in portable optical biosensors. Professor Ligler now talks to Nature Chemistry about the challenge of developing new sensor designs into reliable products, and some of the pitfalls to avoid in the development process.

    • Russell Johnson
  • Bruce C. Gibb offers some suggestions to chemists for how they can help save the world, one nudge at a time.

    • Bruce C. Gibb
  • Claire Murray ponders on the attraction benzene — a small, seemingly simple molecule — has long exerted on scientists, some of the insights gained through its exploration, and the varied applications found for this hexagonal ring and its derivatives.

    • Claire Murray
    In Your Element
  • Christine M. Le takes a look at 2-[18F]fluoro-2-deoxyglucose and explains how this radioactive sugar could help to save your life.

    • Christine M. Le
    In Your Element
  • Jennifer Rudd reflects on how, in recent history, carbon dioxide has been largely vilified for its role in global warming. Yet responsibility for the current climate crisis lies squarely with humans, not a molecule that is crucial for life on Earth.

    • Jennifer A. Rudd
    In Your Element
  • Athina Anastasaki from ETH Zürich talks to Nature Chemistry about her career, her research in polymer chemistry and the challenges she dealt with in her academic pathway.

    • Kathryn Ashe

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