NChem Research Highlights: Twisting, diversity and order from disorder


Monday = Research Highlights.

What actually happens when molecules isomerise? How do the atoms really move? I’ve never really thought about how little I know about it, so it was interesting to read how stilbene (two benzene rings linked by double-bonded carbon atoms) twists as it changes from cis to trans. It’s just a shame there’s no movie with the article!

As I’m sure many of you know (and as more organic colleagues have told me), making complicated organic molecules can, apparently, be a rather time-consuming and tricky business. Removing tongue from cheek, being able to sample as large a portion of ‘chemical space’ as possible is crucially important in drug discovery. Now, using only 6 simple reactions (hence Steve’s ‘Six degrees of separation’ headline) a team at Leeds have been able to generate over 80 different scaffolds.

Molecules adsorbed on a surface are unlikely to align themselves in periodic, crystalline array. But using a molecule that can bond in defined ways resulted in a hexagonal ‘hole’ appearing no matter how the molecules themselves were arranged. This resulted in the holes forming an ordered array while the actual molecules had no order.

I’m afraid the chemistry blogosphere/world of news has run dry for the “And finally…” section this week, so you’ll have to put up with this shocking joke:

Why do white bears dissolve in water?

Because they’re polar.

I do apologise – any better ones gratefully received!


Neil Withers (Associate Editor, Nature Chemistry)

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