NChem Research Highlights: Organo-photo-catalysis, funny fullerenes and anti-freeze proteins

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Here are this week’s pick of the (chemistry) pops: Research Highlights

In a smooth (and completely serendipitous) link to big Nature‘s insight on small molecule catalysis, we feature a new step in catalysis: merging the features of organocatalysis with photocatalysis. The paper’s by David MacMillan, who also has a commentary in the insight here.

Next up, we all know that C60 is a wonderfully symmetrical molecule, shaped like a football/soccer ball, right? Well, that’s only one of 1812 possible isomers of C60, and two of the less symmetrical ones have now been made. They’re not as pretty as buckminsterfullerene, but you can functionalise them in more specific places.

Here in the northern hemisphere, leaves are starting to change colour, but it feels a long time until we’ll need to dig out the anti-freeze. Some animals survive sub-zero temperature thanks to anti-freeze proteins, but how they work hasn’t really been well understood. Now molecular dynamics simulations have shown that it’s the ordering of the water molecules around the protein that disrupts the crystallisation.

And finally…want to build a space elevator? Carbon nanotubes to the rescue! Is there anything they can’t do…?


Neil Withers (Associate Editor, Nature Chemistry)