Bismuth drug structure solved

Crystal structure of bismuth subgallate viewed along (a) [010] and (b) [100]. Bismuth, carbon and oxygen atoms are coloured purple, grey and red, respectively. Hydrogen atoms and water molecules in the pores have been omitted for clarity.

Bismuth subgallate – a widely used pharmaceutical for treating stomach ulcers – is a porous coordination polymer, new research shows. The discovery, made by scientists in Sweden and the UK, settles a long running question over the drug’s structure, which had been frustrated by bismuth subgallate’s tiny crystals and their tendency to break down when exposed to high energy electron beams.

Now, Andrew Kentaro Inge from Stockholm University and his team have overcome these issues. By combining continuous rotational data collection with a cooling technique, they avoided the electron beam damage, poor resolution and diffuse scattering holding them and others back. ‘Continuous rotation electron diffraction is a promising way to elucidate the structures of hard to obtain, or very hard to crystallise, pharmaceutical forms. For this purpose, it’s an up-and-coming method,’ says Tomislav Friŝĉić, an expert in materials chemistry at McGill University in Canada.

Read the full story by Tabitha Watson on Chemistry World.

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Exploration of MXenes as Potassium-ion Battery Electrodes

Written by Tianyu Liu, University of California, Santa Cruz

Batteries are indispensable components that are powering a diverse array of electronics used almost every day. In recent years, due to the mass production of rechargeable electronics such as cell phones and electric vehicles, the need for reliable and economically viable batteries is rapidly increasing. Lithium-ion batteries represent a dominated rechargeable battery category that has been commercialized since early 1990s. However, the uneven distribution and high cost of lithium pose concerns on the sustainability of lithium-ion batteries.

Since the last decade, a number of scientists have shifted their attention to metal-ion batteries with more abundant and inexpensive metals than lithium, such as sodium and potassium. Change of ions calls for the need of seeking electrode materials with suitable structures that are able to host sodium or potassium ions. Most recently, Naguib and coworkers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in USA and Purdue University in USA have identified a new two-dimensional material belonging to the MXene family that exhibits promising performance as an electrode for potassium-ion batteries. Their works has been published in Chem. Commun.

MXenes are a group of two-dimensional transition metal carbides and carbonitrides (Figure a) with chemical formula Mn+1XnTz; where M, X and Tz stand for an early transition metal element (e.g., Ti, V, Cr), carbon and/or nitrogen, and termination element (usually O, OH or F), respectively. Based on previous theoretical studies, MXenes are predicted to be capable of hosting potassium ions. In this work, Naguib et al. first synthesized one of the MXenes, Ti3CNOF, and experimentally investigated its energy storage performance.

The researchers first synthesized the Ti3CNOF powder by a wet etching process of its precursor. The obtained powder was then blended with other additives (including carbon black powder and polymer binders) and cast onto a piece of copper foil to prepare the electrode. The Ti3CNOF electrode delivered a high capacity (a measure for amount of energy that can be stored) of 710 mAh/g in the first discharging process and retained 75 mAh/g after 100 charge and discharge cycles (Figure b). In addition, the researchers gauged the charge storage mechanism of the synthesized Ti3CNOF using X-ray diffraction and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The key conclusion is that potassium ions are able to intercalate in between layers of Ti3CNOF without triggering any phase change (Figure c). This mechanism is similar with lithium-ion intercalation into graphite.

Though the capacity performance reported here is not as outstanding as other graphene-based electrodes, this work provides the encouraging potential of MXenes serving as potassium-ion battery electrodes. Exploring other MXenes and modifying Ti3CNOF demonstrated here are expected to further enhance the charge storage performance of MXene-based potassium-ion batteries.

To find out more please read:
Electrochemical Performance of MXenes as K-ion Battery Anodes
Michael Naguib, Ryan A. Adams, Yunpu Zhao, Dmitry Zemlyanov, Arvind Varma, Jagjit Nanda, Vilas G. Pol.
DOI: 10.1039/C7CC02026K

About the author:
Tianyu Liu is a Ph.D. in chemistry from University of California-Santa Cruz. He is passionate about scientific communication to introduce cutting-edge researches to both the general public and the scientists with diverse research expertise. He is a web writer for the Chem. Commun. and Chem. Sci. blog websites. More information about him can be found at http://liutianyuresearch.weebly.com/.

 

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Bioinspired catalysis for eco-friendly chemical transformations in water

One challenge that today’s chemists face is making large-scale processes more economical and environmentally friendly. Within this area, there has been a surge of interest in the development of bioinspired catalytic systems which, relative to traditional catalysis, have the potential to reduce chemical waste by 85% by performing efficient reactions in pure water.

Prof. Normand Voyer and coworkers from Laval University have recently published an eco-friendly methodology for the preparation of chiral a,b-epoxyketones in pure water using the supramolecular catalyst, homo-oligopeptide poly-L-leucine (PLL).

Achieving enantioselectivity in organic reactions carried out in water poses challenges but peptide derived catalysts have shown great promise in this regard. The best example of this is the Juliá-Colonna epoxidation which has been studied and improved since its discovery in the early 1980’s. While significant progress in this area has been made, most transformations using natural homo-oligopeptides have required the use of an organic co-solvent to improve reaction efficiency.

Professor Voyer shows the new, eco-friendly process begins with several homo-oligopeptides being synthesised from their corresponding amino acid N-carboxyanhydrides and used to catalyse the Juliá-Colonna epoxidation of an electron deficient olefin in water. Of all the catalysts, PLL provided the highest conversion and enantioselectivity (Table) however, the generality of the reaction appeared to be dependent on the sterics and electronics of the substrates.

Computational analysis was used to model the PLL supramolecular catalyst and rationalise the observed reaction trends. PLL adopts a helical conformation with hydrophobic grooves distributed along the helical axis. When modelled with substrate 1 (Table), it was observed that the chalcone moiety fits perfectly within the PLL groove and forms a stable complex. It is this complexation that also aids in solubility of the ketone, removing the need for an organic co-solvent.

Epoxidation is proposed to take place through a “groove sliding” mechanism, where the substrate slides into the hydrophobic pocket generated by the leucine side chains until it reaches the N-terminal of PLL where a hydroperoxide anion is waiting (Figure). This mechanistic proposal lends to the enantioselectivity of the reaction and explains the observed electronic and steric constraints.

While the scope of PLL remains limited, this study underscores the fact that conformation and the hydrophobic nature of the oligopeptide catalysts are critical for carrying out environmentally benign organic reactions and has set a precedent for the development of future biomimetic supramolecular catalysts.

To find out more see:

Revisiting the Juliá–Colonna enantioselective epoxidation: supramolecular catalysis in water
Christopher Bérubé, 
DOI:10.1039/C7CC01168G


Victoria Corless is currently completing her Ph.D. in organic chemistry with Prof. Andrei Yudin at The University of Toronto. Her research is centred on the synthesis of kinetically amphoteric molecules which offer a versatile platform for the development of chemoselective transformations with particular emphasis on creating novel biologically active molecules.

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Elucidating the Molecular Behavior on the pH Responsiveness of Chitosan

Written by Tianyu Liu, University of California, Santa Cruz

Chitosan is a polysaccharide derived from chitin, a second most abundant bio-polymer on earth that consists of the shells of crustaceans (such as shrimps and crabs). It is a commonly used bio-compatible material for bio-medical applications such as drug delivery.

Previous studies have shown that chitosan is pH sensitive in water: it forms a viscous solution at low pH values and becomes insoluble at high pH values. Preliminary investigations suggest that such pH responsiveness is associated with the protonation and de-protonation processes of the amine groups on the chitosan polymer chain (the red box in Figure a). However, there still lacks fundamental understanding on how the pH affects the behavior of chitosan.

Now writing in Chem. Commun., Xu and Matysiak from University of Maryland, USA provided us new insights on the chitosan’s pH responsiveness at the molecular level. They adopted a method called “coarse-grained molecular simulation” to illustrate the self-assembly behaviors of chitosan polymer chains at different pH values. Unlike atomistic molecular simulations that focus on individual atoms of a molecule, the coarse-grained molecular simulation treats a group of atoms as one ensemble and probes the collective behavior of each ensemble (Figure a and b). This simulation technique demands less time than the atomistic counterparts without significantly reducing the simulation accuracy. It is suitable for characterizing polymers composed of thousands of atoms, such as chitosan.

The key discovery of this work is that the chitosan polymer chains can adopt different configurations at different pH values. At high pH values, each chain tends to crosslink perpendicularly with adjacent chains. The crosslinking reaction propagates and eventually builds up a three-dimensional dense chain network (Figure c). At low pH values, the protonated amine groups favor parallel crosslinking. Thus, each chain aligns in parallel with each other, which leads to a loosely-packed structure (Figure d). The perpendicularly cross-linked configuration reduces the solubility of chitosan in water but renders robustness and elasticity of the chitosan networks. The parallel cross-linked morphology increases water solubility but decreases the elasticity of the chitosan assembly. These conclusions obtained by the simulation are consistent with experimental results.

To find out more please read:
Effect of pH on Chitosan Hydrogel Polymer Network Structure
Hongcheng Xu and Silvina Matysiak
DOI: 10.1039/C7CC01826F

About the author:
Tianyu Liu is a Ph.D. in chemistry from University of California-Santa Cruz. He is passionate about scientific communication to introduce cutting-edge researches to both the general public and the scientists with diverse research expertise. He is a web writer for the Chem. Commun. and Chem. Sci. blog websites. More information about him can be found at http://liutianyuresearch.weebly.com/

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Elizabeth New: Winner of the 2017 ChemComm Emerging Investigator Lectureship

On behalf of the ChemComm Editorial Board, we are delighted to announce Elizabeth New from the University of Sydney, Australia, as the winner of the 2017 ChemComm Emerging Investigator Lectureship – congratulations, Liz!

Elizabeth New

Liz finished her BSc (Advanced, Hons 1 and Medal) and MSc in Chemistry at the University of Sydney before embarking on a PhD programme at Durham University, UK, working with Professor David Parker. After being awarded her PhD in Chemistry in January, 2010, she was a Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley within the group of Professor Christopher Chang. She then returned to the University of Sydney as an ARC DECRA Fellow to start her independent research career in 2012, establishing herself at the cutting-edge of molecular imaging and developing novel chemical imaging tools to supplement existing imaging platforms.

She developed the first set of reversible sensors for cellular redox environment containing flavins as the sensing group, including the first examples of ratiometric reversible cytoplasmic sensing, reversible mitochondrial sensing, and ratiometric mitochondrial sensing. She has also developed the first fluorescent sensor for a platinum metabolite, enabling the unprecedented visualisation of cisplatin metabolism, and a subsequent sensor to study the metabolism of transplatin analogues. Her research group is one of the very few in the world to be investigating cobalt complexes as responsive magnetic resonance contrast agents, and she has developed new methods for ratiometric fluorescent sensing, as well as new strategies to control subcellular targeting. Her research excellence has been recognised by a number of awards, among them the NSW Early Career Researcher of the Year (2016) and the Asian Biological Inorganic Chemistry Early Career Researcher Award (2014).

Passionate about communicating science, she has spoken about her research to high school students (as the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) Nyholm Youth Lecturer, 2014-5, and the RACI Tasmanian Youth Lecturer, 2017), to the general public (as a NSW Young Tall Poppy Awardee, 2015), and to politicians and policy-makers (as elected executive member of the Australian Academy of Science’s Early-Mid Career Researcher Forum). She is currently a Senior Lecturer and Westpac Research Fellow in the School of Chemistry at the University of Sydney, where her group continues to focus on the development of molecular probes for the study of biological systems.

As part of the Lectureship, Elizabeth will present a lecture at three locations over the coming year, with at least one of these events taking place at an international conference, where she will be formally presented with her Emerging Investigator Lectureship certificate. Details of her lectures will be announced in due course – keep an eye on the blog for details.

Read these articles by Elizabeth New:

A cobalt(II) complex with unique paraSHIFT responses to anion
E. S. O’Neill, J. L. Kolanowski, P. D. Bonnitcha and E. J. New
Chem. Commun., 2017, 53, 3571-3574
DOI: 10.1039/C7CC00619E, Communication

On the outside looking in: redefining the role of analytical chemistry in the biosciences
Dominic J. Hare and Elizabeth J. New
Chem. Commun., 2016, 52, 8918-8934
DOI: 10.1039/C6CC00128A, Feature Article
From themed collection 2016 Emerging Investigators

Fluorescent sensing of monofunctional platinum species
Clara Shen, Benjamin D. W. Harris, Lucy J. Dawson, Kellie A. Charles, Trevor W. Hambley and Elizabeth J. New
Chem. Commun., 2015, 51, 6312-6314
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC08077G, Communication,  Open Access

Imaging metals in biology: balancing sensitivity, selectivity and spatial resolution
Dominic J. Hare, Elizabeth J. New, Martin D. de Jonge and Gawain McColl
Chem. Soc. Rev., 2015, 44, 5941-5958
DOI: 10.1039/C5CS00055F, Tutorial Review,  Open Access

A FRET-based ratiometric redox probe for detecting oxidative stress by confocal microscopy, FLIM and flow cytometry
Amandeep Kaur, Mohammad A. Haghighatbin, Conor F. Hogan and Elizabeth J. New
Chem. Commun., 2015, 51, 10510-10513
DOI: 10.1039/C5CC03394B, Communication

The annual ChemComm Emerging Investigator Lectureship recognises emerging scientists in the early stages of their independent academic career. Nominations for the 2018 Emerging Investigator Lectureship will open later in the year – keep an eye on the blog for details, and read more about our previous winners.

2016:    Ang Li from the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, China

2015:    Deanne D’Alessandro from the University of Sydney, Australia

    Yong Sheng Zhao from the Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences, China

2014:    Xinliang Feng from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Germany

2014:    Tomislav Friščić from McGill University, Canada

2014:    Simon M. Humphrey from the University of Texas at Austin, USA

2013:    Louise A. Berben from the University of California at Davis, USA

2013:    Marina Kuimova from Imperial College London, UK

2012:    Hiromitsu Maeda from Ritsumeikan University, Japan

2011:    Scott Dalgarno from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK

Also of interest: You can read the 2016 ChemComm Emerging Investigators Issue which highlights research from outstanding up-and-coming scientists and watch out for our 2017 Emerging Investigators issue – coming very soon. You can also take a look at our previous Emerging Investigator issues in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

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Congratulations to the 2017 Cram Lehn Pedersen Prize winner: Tom de Greef

Tom will speak at the 2017 International Conference on Molecular Systems Engineering (ICMSE) in Basel, as well as at the 2017 International Symposium on Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry (ISMSC) being held in Cambridge in conjuction with ISACS: Challenges in Organic Materials & Supramolecular Chemistry

ChemComm is pleased to announce Dr.ir. Tom de Greef, of the Biomedical Engineering department of Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, as the recipient of this year’s Cram Lehn Pedersen award in Supramolecular Chemistry, a prestigious prize awarded annually by the ISMSC International Committee to young researchers. Our warm congratulations to Tom!

Dr.ir. Tom de Greef

The prize, sponsored by ChemComm and named in honour of the winners of the 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, recognises significant, original and independent work in supramolecular chemistry by emerging investigators. Scientists who gained their PhD less than ten years previous are eligible for the prize.




Tom is an associate professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology and FMS member, and will receive the award during the 2017 International Symposium on Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry (ISMSC) which will take place in Cambridge (U.K.).



We are also delighted to announce that the 2017 International Symposium on Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry (ISMSC) will be held in conjuction with ISACS: Challenges in Organic Materials & Supramolecular Chemistry.

Our plenary speakers will be:

Full details of all the confirmed speakers may be found on the event website.

We hope you can join us in Cambridge, UK – save the dates 2–6 July 2017!




Tom will also be speaking at the first biannual International Conference on Molecular Systems Engineering (ICMSE) in Basel 27 to 29 August 2017, in Basel, Switzerland.

ICMSE is a unique event in the emerging field of molecular systems engineering, and has the potential of leading to a long-term paradigm shift in molecular sciences. The three-day conference will be held at the University of Basel (Kollegienhaus, Petersplatz 1).

Download the conference flyer (pdf) for more details and book your place now!

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Siliconrhodamine Probes Enable Bio-imaging with Super-resolution

Written by Tianyu Liu, University of California, Santa Cruz

Intracellular imaging is used to reveal fine details of live organisms. It is an indispensable component for the exploration of biomolecular processes in living cells. Super-resolution microscopy (SRM) is an emerging intracellular imaging technique which can acquire images of much higher resolution than those collected by conventional optical microscopy. Currently, the greatest challenge facing SRM is to develop imaging probes that are suitable for site-specific tagging of intracellular biomolecules. Such probes must be biocompatible, membrane-permeable, intensively fluorescent and photo-stable.

Writing in ChemComm., Dr. Peter Kele and coworkers at Research Center for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences have developed a group of siliconrhodamine probes that permit the labelling of intracellular proteins with excellent selectivity as well as fast response time (within 10 min).

The synthesized siliconrhodamine probes consist of a siliconrhodamine backbone anchored with a carboxyl group. The carboxyl group is responsible for the polarity-responsive property of the probes. When bound to polar protein surfaces, the probes exist in a fluorescent form. While upon non-specific binding to hydrophobic surfaces, the probes change their configurations and consequently, the fluorescence is lost. This conversion process is based on an intra-molecular Diels-Alder reaction (Figure below) that can be readily initiated by a polarity change without interrupting native biochemical processes in cells. Such a mechanism provides the probe biocompatibility and fast response characteristics.

The probe has been demonstrated for site-specific super-resolution imaging for live cells. The figure below depicts the experimental results collected using a mammalian cell. The cyan colored image (left) presents the actual cell image (as the reference). The middle magenta colored image was obtained by using one of the synthesized imaging probes. The overlay image (right) exhibits near-perfect co-localization of the reference and labelling images, indicating the probe’s excellent selectivity. Moreover, the labelling process is efficient with the probe concentration as low as 1.5 μM, and the duration as short as 10 min.

These stable, efficient, and biocompatible probes could profoundly advance super-resolution imaging of various intracellular structures.

To find out more please read:

Bioorthogonal Double-Fluorogenic Siliconrhodamine Probes for Intracellular Super-resolution Microscopy
Eszter Kozma, Gemma Estrada Girona, Giulia Paci, Edward A Lemke and Peter Kele
DOI: 10.1039/C7CC02212C

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ChemComm trials double-blind peer review option

Authors can opt for anonymity in peer review

You asked, we listened. And now we invite you to join us as we explore a different approach to peer review.

From 3 July 2017, for a period of 12 months, we are offering our authors a choice on how their manuscripts will be peer reviewed on ChemComm:

Single-blind peer review – where reviewers are anonymous but author names and affiliations are known to reviewers.

Double-blind peer review – where authors’ and reviewers’ identities are concealed from each other.

The choice of which peer review model should be used for each manuscript will be completely up to authors. However, as an author, if you opt for the double-blind process you will need to anonymise your manuscript before submission, avoiding mention of any information that might give your identity away. Authors who choose this option will be responsible for ensuring their submission is anonymised; we have prepared a checklist to help you.

As a reviewer for ChemComm, you may be invited to review a manuscript that has been anonymised. All communication with you regarding double-blind manuscripts will omit author and affiliation details.

Why a double-blind trial?

ChemComm has always used the traditional, single-blind peer review model favoured by most scientific journals, and we continue to trust in the effectiveness of this system.

However, we have listened to feedback from some members of the chemical science community and we have seen the growing interest in double-blind peer review. Proponents of double-blind review suggest that it can reduce the impact of biases, both obvious and subtle, conscious or otherwise, on peer review.  These biases could be based on gender, ethnicity, author affiliation, and so on. In response to this feedback from parts of our community, we decided to see for ourselves how ChemComm can offer authors the option of anonymity, and whether this is something that our community values.

Because the evidence for the effectiveness of double-blind in reducing bias is not clear cut1, we will carry out a 12-month trial to gather our own evidence.  We want to understand the true demand for double-blind review from our authors and, where possible, to measure any differences in the effectiveness of the peer review between the two approaches.

So why not take part in our 12-month experiment – both single- and double-blind peer review options will be available for submissions to ChemComm from the 3rd of July. Authors need only select the double-blind option upon submission to choose this process.

We value your feedback and, as part of the trial, we will be asking all authors and reviewers to complete a short survey about their experience – please do share your thoughts on peer review, whether single- or double-blind, with us. After the trial, we will share the results of our experiment with the community and use the evidence gathered to make a decision about using double-blind review in future.

At ChemComm, we are proud to be the leading journal for urgent, high-quality communications from across the chemical sciences – publishing 100 issues a year.

Read more about this trial in our guidelines for authors and reviewers.

 

1Bob O’Hara. “Peer Review Week: Should we use double blind peer review? The evidence…” (Methods.blog, the official blog of Methods in Ecology and Evolution) and references therein. 22 Sept 2016. Available at: https://methodsblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/peer-review-week-should-we-use-double-blind-peer-review-the-evidence/

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Destruction and Reconstruction of Nanorods Controlled by Visible Light

Written by Tianyu Liu, University of California, Santa Cruz

Supramolecular smart materials are a family of materials composed of several molecules. They have the ability to change their configurations in response to external stimuli such as the presence of enzymes, light irradiation, and changes in pH. This property can be manipulated for a variety of applications including drug delivery and tissue engineering.

In recent years, pH-responsive supramolecular smart materials have been intensively investigated due to the simplicity of pH alteration. However, adjusting pH can have undesired consequences. First, chemical species other than the supramolecular materials (e.g., acid and base) are needed for tuning pH. The involvement of external reagents hinders the readiness of operation. Additionally, the use of acid and base inevitably introduces waste products, which could eventually suppress the stimulus-response activity of the smart materials. Therefore, developing alternative ways to initiate the configuration modification of the supramolecular smart materials is highly desirable.

In a recent ChemComm. publication, Professor Heng-Yi Zhang, Professor Yu Liu and coworkers from Nankai University, China have developed supramolecular smart nanorods consisting of β-cyclodextrin (β-CD) and 4,4’-bipyridine-coordinated zinc ions. In the presence of protonated merocyanine (MEH) in water, the nanorods are able to dissociate upon visible light illumination and reconstruct themselves when placed in the dark (Figure above).

The method by which these structures can reconfigure involves a light-driven proton transfer process (Figure below). MEH molecules absorb energy from visible light and subsequently release their protons to the surroundings. These free protons then combine with the 4,4’-bipyridine (DPD). The protonated DPD molecules lose their coordination ability and disassemble with zinc ions. As a result, the entire nanorod structure collapses. When no light is present, the aforementioned proton transfer process is reversed and the nanorods are reformed. Such a process is highly reversible with no observable light-responsive activity loss for at least five cycles.

The demonstrated light-responsive supramolecular nanorods enable facile operations with no additional chemicals. This technology opens up endless new opportunities in remote control of light-responsive processes.

To find out more please see:

Light-controlled reversible self-assembly of nanorod suprastructures

Jie Guo, Heng-Yi Zhang, Yan Zhou and Yu Liu

DOI:10.1039/C7CC03280C

 

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Commemorating Michael Faraday (1791-1867) – call for papers in physical chemistry

This year we are commemorating the 150th anniversary of the death of Michael Faraday, perhaps one of the most prolific and influential scientists who ever lived. His ground-breaking research into the relationship between electricity and magnetism ultimately led to the invention of the electric motor.

One of his most well-known creations, the Faraday cage, is the basis of MRI machines which are routinely used for a range of medical diagnoses. He also discovered benzene, pioneered research into nanotechnology, and gave his name to the Faraday Effect, Faraday’s Law, and the SI unit of capacitance, the farad.

At the Royal Society of Chemistry, we are honouring Michael Faraday with a special Chemical Communications web themed issue, highlighting key discoveries and developments in physical chemistry.

We encourage you to submit your best research to be included in this unique collection! More information about our article types can be found here. Submit at www.rsc.org/ChemComm by 31st July 2017! Please note that all submissions will be subject to peer review in accordance with the journal’s quality and standards. If you are interested in this opportunity, please email chemcomm-rsc@rsc.org

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