Sunday, 28 April 2013

#chemclub Roundup #RealTimeChem edition

It's the end of #RealTimeChem week and it's been great fun. Kudos to Dr. Jay and everyone else behind it! In addition to the regular round-up of #chemclub highlights, I'm going to pick out some of the best of #RealTimeChem week.

My favourite thing about this week was the chance to speak to a lot of new people and find new blogs. You might notice that the blogroll (over to your right) has been greatly expanded... For my part, I contributed with by writing about five 'chemistry classics', which you can find links to here. This was also a very exciting week for me as my post about chemophobia was featured at Grand CENtral and Scientific American!

There's been a lot of great chemistry writing this week: Dr. Jess has provided regular round-ups (1 2 3 4 5) at The Organic Solution. The final few posts from the "Chemistry at the Movies" carnival have also trickled in, and are indexed at Just Like Cooking.

A few of my favourite posts from this week:
Open Source Catalysis featured Kat's lab book most days this week. These posts are a beautiful walkthrough of a week in the life of a chemist. (Also, her TLC baselines are nice and straight. Pay attention, SeeArrOh ;) )
Taking Care of Bismuth - love the punny title! - features Trent doing a titration in his kitchen. I never thought I'd find titrations interesting again, but Trent pulls it off. Great read.
At the Interface posted a nice example of how science happens: serendipity, collaboration, and solid knowledge coming together to give an elegant result.
Labsolutely shows how to turn a column into a musical instrument. If you've not seen Vittorio's videos before, you're in for a treat. I reckon his "Chemistry: An Extreme Sport" video should be the trailer for the next Otto lab open day...

Onto the peer-reviewed stuff. Here's some highlights from #chemclub the last couple of weeks:

Vittorio highlighted Nature Chemistry's prebiotic chemistry focus this month, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It includes two papers from heavyweights John Sutherland and Jack Szostak which are not only significant for the topic at hand, but are great chemistry. The accompanying editorial is also very nicely-written and offers a good summary of the significance of these two papers.
Total Synthesis shared a paper by MacMillan, in which (-)-vincorine is synthesised enantioselectively in 9 steps. The key step is a cascade of two organocatalytic cyclisations which produce the core structure in 70% yield and 95% ee under pretty mild conditions.
The Grumpy Chemist liked this methodology paper which uses Pd catalysis and elemental oxygen to convert aromatic C-H to C-OH. It tolerates aryl halides and some other functional groups and gives decent yields overall. I particularly liked that the authors actually probe their proposed mechanism, rather than simply drawing it and leaving it as speculation as is often the case.
Damilola Daramola shares his latest paper, a DFT study of aqueous ammonia oxidation on platinum, which produces nitrogen and hydrogen, with obvious potential applications. Their results highlight possible catalyst poisons, and predict key spectroscopic results which could be used to further probe the mechanism.
Further shameless self-promotion (which is genuinely welcome here at #chemclub) comes from Clayton Owens, whose latest paper is a thorough study of Ir-catalysed C-H functionalisation. The catalysts they report are nicely active (loading down to 0.5 mol%), tolerate some functionality, and give consistently decent yields (typically >70%) and selectivities (typically >90% ee). Half of the paper is dedicated to mechanistic study, which ultimately gives a model for predicting selectivity when using these complexes.
Thanks for reading this far! Remember in the week ahead to share what you're reading on Twitter with the hashtag #chemclub.


  1. Seriously, it was a great week. I wish it could be #RealTimeChem week every week (though my research would really suffer I think).

  2. I can imagine. To be honest I think it'll take another week to just go over all the stuff people produced.