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Highlights in Chemical Science

News from across RSC Publishing.

Issue 2

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Flexible molecules that are mirror images of themselves are very difficult to identify fully. This is especially true when they are dissolved in a liquid crystal solvent that is chiral itself. Using mathematical modelling and NMR experiments, James Emsley at the University of Southampton and fellow structural chemists in the Université de Paris-Sud claim to have developed an applicable mathematical solution to help distinguish the different mirror images.

Phosphine baskets

Large, basket-like phosphines have been created by a team of researchers from Germany and Russia. Evamarie Hey-Hawkins and colleagues made several phosphine macrocycles which, when coordinated to a metal centre, create distinct hydrophobic chemical environments - ideal for the catalysis of organic substrates.

Enzyme electrochemistry

The secret of how enzymes catalyse redox reactions has been brought a step closer by Australian scientists Gordon Wallace and Gerhard Swiegers and colleagues. They noticed that a platinum electrode coated with immobilised ferrocene moieties enabled the combination of two hydrogen ions to form H2 gas at much lower potentials than a platinum electrode alone. The effect is all down to close positioning of the ferrocene catalytic centres. They explain that enzyme catalysis is also wholly dependent on correctly proximate and predisposed catalytic groups.

Oriented by polarised light

Takahiro Seki from Nagoya University and colleagues from Tokyo, were inspired by biological systems where mineral components are produced and orientated under influences from organic membranes. They pattern a photoresponsive organic layer using polarised light. This pattern is transferred to the inorganic film. The new method will provide new opportunities in device manufacture. Seki says 'the next goal is to make films with pores in an upright orientation; these could have exciting medical applications.'

Essential Elements

Salute to marine natural product pioneer

Natural Product Reports, Issue 1, of 2004 is a special issue on marine natural products published in memory of Professor John Faulkner, recognising his outstanding contribution bot...

Research Highlights

Making sense of enzyme activity

Biomolecular engineers develop chip to monitor living cells in real time.

Supercharging photosensitive polymers

The search is on for more sensitive materials to create images with.

Building a dragon's blood bank

The historical origins of dragon's blood - the deep red resins obtained from Dracaena plants - can now be used to identify accurately resins of unknown origin.

Taking the danger out of breathing

Novel enzyme mimic could be used to help treat inflammatory diseases.

Lord of the rings

Tiny molecular machines that can build themselves are the futuristic-sounding goal of supramolecular chemists.

Enzyme electronics

Mimicry of the cleverest kind is under way in the labs of Ally Aukauloo at the Université Paris-Sud in France.

Zinc and HIV drugs

Drugs based on cyclam, a simple cyclic molecule, show promise in the war against HIV by blocking the path of the virus into cells.

Electrophilic groups boost Michael reaction

The usefulness of a recently developed reaction, the intramolecular Michael addition, can be improved in order to show enantioselectivity.

Enzymes still cleaving

Researchers at Liverpool University have shown that enzymes that cleave DNA are still effective when the DNA is bound to spherical gold nanoparticles.

Gold nanoparticles as anion sensors

Modifying gold nanoparticles with zinc porphyrins leads to enhanced anion recognition properties claims a team of inorganic chemists from the University of Oxford.

Flipping lipids

Enzymes that initiate a flip-flop action in membrane lipids have been designed by Bradley Smith and his research group at the University of Notre Dame.