Tuesday, 4 June 2013

#chemclub Roundup 10

Here are some highlights from the #chemclub Twitter feed in the last two weeks. The eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed that #chemclub was featured in the Blogroll column of this month's Nature Chemistry. Thanks to Dr. Jay for the kind writeup!

Starting this month I've expanded the scope of #chemclub to include monthly articles about different topics in chemistry by various authors. The first is about protocells and can be found here. If you'd like to get involved in this project, get in touch!

On the blogs, Derek Lowe has discussed a few papers, including a Nature paper that uses microwave spectroscopy to determine absolute configuration (check out the comments for a great explanation of the physics of this in chemist-speak) and a paper which images the probability distributions of hydrogen - take that, anti-realism.

If you're into med chem, the OSDD Malaria team have put out a call for input on their open-source drug discovery project. They want advice on which of their candidate molecules they ought to focus on for the next round of synthesis and evaluation. Even if this isn't your area, it's an interesting project and worth checking out.

Jan Jensen offered some insight into the process of peer review, including full comments from reviewers on two papers. Both have now been accepted (to PLOS ONE and J. Chem. Ed.).

Finally, at Open Flask, Dane asks: what's your favourite journal?

Onto some papers: Nessa posted an Org. Lett. describing the synthesis of nitriles by the cleavage of internal alkynes. It's a cool and somewhat unexpected transformation - Derek Lowe describes it as one of those "reactions you probably wouldn't have thought of".
James shared a paper from Nat. Chem. about the templated synthesis of carbon nanotubes. This new method allows control of the chirality of the product, and produces tubes of diameter very close to that of the template.
Fellow protocell fan Vittorio posted another Nat. Chem. paper from Adamala & Szostak. Here, a dipeptide catalyst contained within a vesicle catalyses the formation of a different dipeptide. The product is hydrophobic and binds to the membrane, altering its properties and leading to growth at the expense of other vesicles which lack the product. In effect, the small molecule can be thought of as a 'metabolite' which allows more efficient growth and division, and assimilation of molecules from a competitor. It's an interesting demonstration of simple competition between model protocells.
SeeArrOh shared a Carreira paper from Science. By combining two chiral catalysis (one Ir-based and the other cinchona-derived), the four diastereomeric products of an allylation reaction could each be selectively synthesised from the same starting materials. The the ees are pretty much all >99%, and drs are frequently >20:1, and generally good. Definitely worth reading if you're into catalysis!
Karl posted a review from Acc. Chem. Res. by Muratsugu & Tada about their approach to catalysis. Put briefly, they try to emulate the active sites of enzymes by attaching Ru catalysts to oxide surfaces with a substrate-like molecule bound to the metal, and then surrounding the bound complex with layers of silica. When the ligand is removed from the metal, what's left is a shape roughly like that of the intended substrate, creating the basis for selectivity.
Dr. Paco is reading a tutorial review from 2008 by Otto on systems chemistry. I've read this before and it's good, a great introduction to the area if you're not familiar with it. Naturally I'm a big fan of the section on self-replicating molecules...

Finally, Tony Arash shares a paper which uses an N-heterocyclic carbene to catalytically activate sugars as formaldehyde equivalents in a Stetter reaction. The carbene 'chews up' carbohydrates from the terminal carbonyl to generate carbon nucleophiles for a 1,4-addition. I can't quite put my finger on why, but there's something really appealing about this for me.

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