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Highlights in Chemical Science

News from across RSC Publishing.

Issue 5

Crystals changing colour

A rare example of photochromism in the solid state has been discovered by chemists at the University of Victoria, Canada and the University of Washington, US. The team, led by Natia Frank, synthesised a new spirooxazine and found that single crystals undergo a colour change on exposure to UV light that is photochemically reversible and thermally irreversible. The stability of the light-generated form, which is unusual for these compounds, opens up a new class of materials with potential for optical data storage applications.

Controlling biominerals

Polymer ligands have been used as models of the amino acids that naturally control the growth of CaCO3. Led by Norikazu Ueyama, researchers from Osaka University and the National Institute of AIST Kansai, Japan, have synthesised novel poly(carboxylate) ligands with an amide group neighbouring the carboxylate. They discovered the hydrogen bond between the amide NH and the carboxylate oxyanion plays a key role in controlling morphology during the biomineralization process. The group now hopes to clarify the biomineralization mechanism.

Sparteine revisited

One of the challenges facing chemists developing synthetic routes to natural products is stereocontrol. Ian Fleming at the University of Cambridge, UK, and colleagues in Korea have devised an elegant synthesis of racemic sparteine. The key step in their approach is the diastereoselective protonation of a meso dienolate intermediate which sets up the stereochemistry of the target molecule. Few methods exist for preparing enantiomeric sparteine however this strategy shows great promise for achieving this in the future.

What UV does to ozone

Arthur Suits from Wayne State University in Detroit, US, and colleagues (from the US, Canada and Russia) have studied the break-up of ozone by UV light. Different pathways are possible, leading to the same product. Monitoring these pathways has allowed the electronic states of ozone and its break-up to be better understood. The method could be used to study quantum properties in other molecular systems. Consequently, it contributes to ongoing efforts to control molecular events actively and to build quantum computers.

Essential Elements

We have lift off!

The countdown is over and the first print issue of Molecular BioSystems, a chemical biology journal with a particular focus at the interface between chemistry and the -omic science...

As clear as crystal

Dealing with nearly 1300 manuscripts and 3000 cif files a year means my day is never dull!

And finally......

Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (PCCP) has been selected by the National Library of Medicine to be indexed and included in Index Medicus/MEDLINE

Research Highlights

Big proteins analysed

Gas-phase spectroscopy on large molecules confirms their structure

Hormone history mirrors prion morphology

Insulin proteins pass on their structural information and add to amyloid research

Getting to the root of the arsenic problem

A common weed could help decontaminate water in the developing world

Simple but smart polymers

Combining controlled polymerisation and 'click' chemistry

Teaching molecular magicians new tricks

Arginine-rich peptides use anions to cross membranes in biological systems, say Swiss researchers.

Cancer killing catalysts

Nanophotocatalysts are killing cancer and viruses by producing destructive oxygen species.

Complex mimetics, simply done

A method to synthesise diverse libraries of carbohydrate clusters quickly and simply has been developed.

Human genome sequence helps target cancer

The human genome is being used to produce a new generation of drugs that target the genetic changes responsible for individual cancers.

Metals cause fast breakdown of pesticides

Processes for decomposing pesticides and chemical warfare agents are being unravelled by Canadian scientists.

Solvent guess work taken out of gel design

A simple chemical alteration can make a molecule that normally forms gels in organic solvents switch to making gels in water.

Bright future for OLEDs

An iridium complex has been developed as a red-light emitting material for use in organic light emitting diodes (OLED).

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