January 2016 - ACS Axial | ACS Publications

ACS Editors’ Choice: Invisibility, Rare Earth Elements in San Francisco Bay and more!

This week:  Researchers build a biomimetic mechanical chameleon to test a new method for achieving invisibility via real-time active camouflage, while a study shows concentrations of rare earth  elements used in new high-tech applications are rapidly building up in San Francisco Bay – and more!

Each and every day, ACS grants free access to a new peer-reviewed research article from one of the Society’s journals. These articles are specially chosen by a team of scientific editors of ACS journals from around the world to highlight the transformative power of chemistry. Access to these articles will remain open to all as a public service.

Check out this week’s picks!


From Highly Crystalline to Outer Surface-Functionalized Covalent Organic Frameworks—A Modulation Approach

Mona Calik, Torben Sick, Mirjam Dogru, Markus Döblinger, Stefan Datz, Harald Budde, Achim Hartschuh, Florian Auras, and Thomas Bein
Am. Chem. Soc., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b10708


Combinatorial Optimization of Sequence-Defined Oligo(ethanamino)amides for Folate Receptor-Targeted pDNA and siRNA Delivery


Dongsheng He, Katharina Müller, Ana Krhac Levacic, Petra Kos, Ulrich Lächelt, and Ernst Wagner

Bioconjugate Chem., Article ASAP

DOI: 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.5b00649


Increases in Anthropogenic Gadolinium Anomalies and Rare Earth Element Concentrations in San Francisco Bay over a 20 Year Record


Vanessa Hatje, Kenneth W. Bruland, and A. Russell Flegal

Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP

DOI: a/acs.est.5b04322


Ion-Directed Synthesis of Indium-Derived 2,5-Thiophenedicarboxylate Metal–Organic Frameworks: Tuning Framework Dimensionality


Joseph J. Mihaly, Matthias Zeller, and Douglas T. Genna

Cryst. Growth Des., Article ASAP

DOI: 10.1021/acs.cgd.5b01680


The Pathogenic Mutation T182A Converts the Prion Protein into a Molten Globule-like Conformation Whose Misfolding to Oligomers but Not to Fibrils Is Drastically Accelerated


Jogender Singh and Jayant B. Udgaonkar

Biochemistry, 2016, 55 (3), pp 459–469

DOI: 10.1021/acs.biochem.5b01266


Mechanical Chameleon through Dynamic Real-Time Plasmonic Tuning


Guoping Wang, Xuechen Chen, Sheng Liu, Chingping Wong, and Sheng Chu

ACS Nano, Article ASAP

DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.5b07472


Synthesis and Diels–Alder Reactivity of Substituted [4]Dendralenes


Mehmet F. Saglam, Ali R. Alborzi, Alan D. Payne, Anthony C. Willis, Michael N. Paddon-Row, and Michael S. Sherburn

Org. Chem., Article ASAP

DOI: 10.1021/acs.joc.5b02583


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Review: “What You Need for the First Job, Besides the Ph.D. in Chemistry”

First job in chemistryIf you are expecting a tired look at how to apply for your first job, What You Need for the First Job, Besides the Ph.D. in Chemistry is not the book for you. I approached the book with mild interest, figuring it would be a review of what I already knew. Within the first few pages, however, I realized I had woefully underestimated both the knowledge and the personal writing styles of the authors. I felt as if the authors were talking to me directly and I thoroughly appreciated the change of voice that came with each chapter’s author. The book is personal, informative, and engaging.

I have been in academia all of my life, first as a student and then as an educator in middle school and high school, as well as a university professor. I have a chemist sister who works for industry, however, and a biologist husband for works in a government lab. What I read in this book rings true with what I know about their careers. In Chapter 1, discussed what is involved in working in industry, making observations similar to my sister’s. This chapter delivers the big picture of both the chemistry and the business side of corporate positions. He writes about the importance of teamwork and time management in industry. These traits are important in academic positions but play a larger role in industry than I’d realized. Wayne Ranbom’s Chapter 2 added to my understanding of what it is like to work in industry with his explanation of the importance of safety awareness and practice, as well as the central role that intellectual property plays in industry. These two chapters were eye-openers and what I learned will definitely help me better advise my students, as they decide what type of work they want to pursue after finishing their PhDs.

I have rarely seen a discussion of what it is like to make the transition from academia to a career in a government lab like the one in Chapter 5. Here,  do a good job of emphasizing the need for good communication and teamwork, as well as the importance of developing your own contribution and working within the rules and regulations of a government lab. Chapter 6, written by R discusses how one takes inventory of goals and works towards them within a government laboratory environment. These were new insights for someone who has spent her professional career in academia and ring true with what I know of my husband’s experiences in a government lab environment.

I thought Chapter 7, about applying for tenure-track positions, would just be a nice review of what I already knew, but I was wrong. Chapters 7-8 present good, clear, comprehensive advice on how to apply for academic positions, within the larger context of how one’s goals should shape the process. These chapters offered details I might not have emphasized with my students when they applied for academic positions. In Chapter 7,  walk through the entire application process, including how to prepare application documents, as well as phone and on-campus interviews. They even include advice on writing a thank-you note as a follow-up to the interview. George M. Bodner’s Chapter 8 speaks to the reader from the point of view of an insider who has been on both sides of the process. He shows how a candidate’s actions, dress, and words can be interpreted by the selection committee. Both of these chapters are “must reads” for everyone who is applying for an academic position.

Just when I thought I had read it all, in Chapter 11 and in Chapter 12 offered insights and advice spanning the bridge between applying for that first job in academia and planning to be successful through the tenure process. These chapters go beyond what I was expecting, discussing common pitfalls that beginning professors often encounter, including trying to do too much in terms of teaching and service in the first year. These sections address how faculty can learn more about different pedagogical approaches. Chapter 12 introduces the reader to some overarching pedagogical beliefs and practices. The take-home messages of these chapters are that research is important and you should start planning it right away, don’t rush into changing the curricula during your first year, learn how to teach the content and start planning for changes you will make your second time through, and embrace assessment, which for chemists is part of what we already do in the lab.ob

In Chapter 13,  offers a very personal and engaging look at academic alternatives to tenure-track positions and how to find a job that enables you to do what you love. I can think of no better closing to this book than Ray’s chapter.

After reading What You Need for the First Job, Besides the Ph.D. in Chemistry in two sittings, I decided I will give this book as a gift to all of my graduate students when they pass their proposal and to all new faculty members in my department. It has something to offer graduate students, new faculty and graduate advisors.

Diane M. Bunce is the 2015-16 Kinnear Chair of the Chemistry Department at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.

What You Need for the First Job, Besides the Ph.D. in Chemistry is available now as part of the ACS Symposium Series of eBooks.

The Evolving Role of Librarians Part Two: Ye Li

TYe Lihe following interview is with Ye Li, Chemistry Librarian, University of Michigan Shapiro Science Library. 

How has your job changed over the years? What is it like being a 21st-century librarian, compared with the more traditional image most people have in their minds?

Ye Li: I have been in the profession for about six years now. During this time, subject specialists in academic libraries are mostly trying to articulate our new roles in data and information management, compared to the traditional roles of information gatekeepers. In-depth engagement in the research and learning experiences of our user community truly sets our current role apart from the traditional role of the librarian sitting behind the circulation desk handing out books. We are now striving to be facilitators of academic success and interdisciplinary collaborations.

What skills are absolutely necessary for the modern scientific librarian?

Ye Li: To me, critical skills are self-learning and continuous learning; communication (scholarly, formal, and informal); data and information management; basic informatics and data science skills; and time and priority management.

What are some emerging trends in the library world?

Ye Li: For academic libraries, data/information management, sharing, and preservation continue to be fast-growing areas. Reproducible research is one of the reenergized areas for librarian involvement due to advances in data science and technology. Under this umbrella, many sub-areas like electronic record-keeping, digital workflow, preservation and dissemination of reusable data and information, and metrics measuring research impact will move forward fast in the next few years.

The current focus may still be initiating services in the data management and sharing areas. But I believe the future lies in establishing partnerships with researchers, students, and faculty throughout the research and learning lifecycle through various types of involvement in the data and information workflow.

How do the changing needs of researchers and students impact your work?

Ye Li: There are now fewer requests for help finding and accessing information. But there are more needs in evaluating and organizing information.

Similarly, people need less help with final outputs of research and learning, but more help creating and handling digital objects for research and learning as ongoing processes.

Who is your greatest influence? Is there one person you would consider to be the epitome of the “modern librarian”?

Ye Li: Leah McEwen, Chemistry Librarian of Cornell University: Leah has a clear vision of how librarians’ roles in research evolve. She is always brave in exploring innovative ways to maximize the impact of our expertise in organizing data and information. She also has “magical powers” in enabling collaborations and making connections among people, resources, and technology. I also appreciate Leah’s passion and patience in mentoring young information professionals.

What five words would you use to describe your work? Have those five words changed since you started out as a librarian?

Ye Li: Engagement, research, instruction, collaboration, and scholarly communication. When I started out, “reference” would be one of those words. Even though I still provide reference services now, the core meaning of it is shifting to aspects described by the above five words.

What organizations and/or associations have you found most valuable as a member and as a participant?

Ye Li: I rely on the ACS Chemical Information Division, the Special Libraries Association (SLA) Chemistry Division, and the American Library Association (ALA) Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).

Watch how spermbots could someday help couples conceive

Infertility is a complex issue, filled with both practical and emotional challenges. It can be particularly frustrating when the difficulty lies in just one small part of the fertilization process, such as low sperm motility. In these cases, the sperms are healthy and viable, but they have difficulty reaching the egg on their own because they’re just not strong swimmers. Now researchers at the Institute for Integrative Nanosciences at the IFW in Dresden, Germany, say they’ve come up with a possible high-tech solution to this age-old problem: spermbots.

A spermbot is a tiny metal helix controlled by a rotating magnetic field, Oliver Schmidt, Ph.D., and his team explain in the pages of ACS Nano Letters. The spermbot can wrap around a sperm and act as a sort of propeller. The device can drive the sperm into an egg, leading to possible fertilization.

It may be a while before we see spermbots in clinical human trials. Researchers say they’re still grappling with challenges when it comes to achieving successful fertilization with artificially guided sperms. But it’s thrilling to think tiny devices like spermbots could someday help bring new life into the world.

Watch the video:

You can read the original research on spermbots in Nano Letters. Be sure to visit the American Chemical Society YouTube page for more great videos.


C&EN Roundup: Volkswagen Emissions, Cyanobacteria Toxins and Calcium-Ion Batteries

Chemical & Engineering News covers the world of chemistry, from research and education to business and policy. Here’s a sampling of their coverage of research from ACS journals:


Volkswagen emissions deception may have cost $430 million and 46 lives

Volkswagen provoked plenty of outrage from consumers when it was revealed last year that nearly 600,000 of their diesel vehicles were using software to fool emissions inspectors. Now a group of researchers is putting the cost of that deception in context, claiming higher-than-expected levels of toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx) released by the vehicles led to 46 deaths and $430 million in damages in the U.S., figures that track closely with previous estimates. Researchers compiled data from several sources to estimate how much NOx the cars released and used a model to estimate damages at the county level.


Calcium-ion batteries could pave the way to denser power storage

Batteries power everything from laptops to cars these days, so the hunt is on for a rechargeable battery that stores energy more densely than a typical lithium-ion battery. Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have built a calcium-ion battery that can store, release and cycle energy, using manganese hexacyanoferrate, tin and a dry, nonaqueous electrolyte based on calcium hexafluorophosphate. Challenges remain, however, as the cathode material wasn’t able to transfer both available electrons to and from the Ca2+, limiting the battery’s capacity.


Power outage leads to discovery of novel method for accelerating oxime ligation reactions

Chemistry’s history is full of unintentional discoveries. Now researchers at the University of Maastricht can join the happy accident club. A power outage led Tilman M. Hackeng and Stijn M. Agten to discover that freezing samples at -20 ˚C caused oxime ligation reactions to occur much faster than normal. The chill also allows the reaction to occur without a catalyst at a neutral pH.


Nitrogen regulation may hold the key to limiting toxic cyanobacteria blooms

Cyanobacteria blooms can produce toxins at concentrations capable of shutting down nearby municipal water systems, yet it was unclear what caused certain types of cyanobacteria to thrive over others and what conditions lead to spikes in toxin output. New research suggests water with high levels of nitrogen and lower levels of phosphorus may favor the growth of Microcystis, the most toxic type of cyanobacteria, over more benign species. Researchers say limiting nitrogen, as well as phosphorus, may be key to managing the growth of cyanobacteria in lakes.

Miniature probes could prove a boon to neurological disease research

A new generation of miniature microdialysis probes could help scientists unlock mysteries hidden in tiny regions of the brains of mice and rats. The new probes are as much as 80% thinner than previous models, coming in at 45 micrometers thick and 180 micrometers wide. Researchers could use the probes to harvest chemicals from minute regions of animal brains, which could provide valuable insights into the progression of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.

That’s just a small sample of the robust coverage C&EN provides. Get the latest news in your discipline with weekly e-mail updates.



ACS Editors’ Choice: On-Demand Drug Delivery with Lanthanide-Doped Upconverting Nanoparticles

This week: Discover a method for on-demand drug delivery with lanthanide-doped upconverting nanoparticles, insights into the preparation of graphene oxide, a low-cost alternative to infrared thermal imaging devices — and more!

Each and every day, ACS grants free access to a new peer-reviewed research article from one of the Society’s journals. These articles are specially chosen by a team of scientific editors of ACS journals from around the world to highlight the transformative power of chemistry. Access to these articles will remain open to all as a public service.

Check out this week’s picks!

Hidden Second Oxidation Step of Hummers Method

Jong Hun Kang, Taehoon Kim, Jaeyoo Choi, Jisoo Park, Yern Seung Kim, Mi Se Chang, Haesol Jung, Kyung Tae Park, Seung Jae Yang, and Chong Rae Park

Chem. Mater., Article ASAP

DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.5b03700


Is Molecular Weight or Degree of Polymerization a Better Descriptor of Ultrasound-Induced Mechanochemical Transduction?

Preston A. May, Nicholas F. Munaretto, Michael B. Hamoy, Maxwell J. Robb, and Jeffrey S. Moore

ACS Macro Lett., 2016, 5, pp 177–180

DOI: 10.1021/acsmacrolett.5b00855


In Vitro and in Vivo Characterization of MOD-4023, a Long-Acting Carboxy-Terminal Peptide (CTP)-Modified Human Growth Hormone

Oren Hershkovitz, Ahuva Bar-Ilan, Rachel Guy, Yana Felikman, Laura Moschcovich, Vivian Hwa, Ron G. Rosenfeld, Eyal Fima, and Gili Hart

Mol. Pharmaceutics, Article ASAP

DOI: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.5b00868


Photocleavable Hydrogel-Coated Upconverting Nanoparticles: A Multifunctional Theranostic Platform for NIR Imaging and On-Demand Macromolecular Delivery

Ghulam Jalani, Rafik Naccache, Derek H. Rosenzweig, Lisbet Haglund, Fiorenzo Vetrone, and Marta Cerruti

Am. Chem. Soc., Article ASAP

DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b12357


Pyramidanes: The Covalent Form of the Ionic Compounds

Vladimir Ya. Lee, Olga A. Gapurenko, Yuki Ito, Takahiko Meguro, Haruka Sugasawa, Akira Sekiguchi, Ruslan M. Minyaev, Vladimir I. Minkin, Rolfe H. Herber, and Heinz Gornitzka

Organometallics, Article ASAP

DOI: 10.1021/acs.organomet.5b00924


Infrared Photodetection Based on Colloidal Quantum-Dot Films with High Mobility and Optical Absorption up to THz

Emmanuel Lhuillier, Marion Scarafagio, Patrick Hease, Brice Nadal, Hervé Aubin, Xiang Zhen Xu, Nicolas Lequeux, Gilles Patriarche, Sandrine Ithurria, and Benoit Dubertret

Nano Lett., Article ASAP

DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b04616


Aptamer-Modified Graphene-Based Catalytic Micromotors: Off–On Fluorescent Detection of Ricin

Berta Esteban-Fernández de Ávila, Miguel Angel Lopez-Ramirez, Daniela F. Báez, Adrian Jodra, Virendra V. Singh, Kevin Kaufmann, and Joseph Wang*

ACS Sens., Article ASAP

DOI: 10.1021/acssensors.5b00300

Love ACS Editors’ Choice? Get a weekly e-mail digest of the latest ACS Editor’s Choice articles on a variety of exciting topics like on-demand drug delivery and never miss a breakthrough!

The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters’ ACS LiveSlides: Off the page, into the world

ACS LiveSlides presentation

In 2013, the editors of the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters realized that to increase authors’ reach, they’d need to attract a wider audience, including readers from outside the chemical physics and atomic molecular physics disciplines. To do that, published articles would need to be made more accessible, possibly shorter, and friendlier to mobile devices. How could JCPL simplify research for wide audiences while still retaining high quality for specialized readers? They’d need a supplementary format that would make research more visible—literally. That’s where ACS LiveSlides come in.

ACS LiveSlides are audio slide presentations that summarize key information from researchers’ published findings. Authors can upload five or six PowerPoint slides, an MP3 file of their description of their research, and suggested slide transitions in a matter of minutes. Because this format is more interactive and potentially more engaging, it expands the reach of the scientific results.

ACS LiveSlides make research accessible

Says JPCL Deputy Editor Prashant Kamat, “We started LiveSlides to give audiences a glimpse of research highlights in a more presentational style.”

The ACS LiveSlides presentations are accessible through a convenient viewer produced in partnership with the U.K.-based company, figshare. Each presentation includes a direct link to the originally published article.

Authors can link to this slideshow on professional websites and social media, and so can readers who find the work valuable. The multimedia format crosses disciplinary boundaries, so that interested people in other scientific fields can access and understand the gist of a given article.

ACS LiveSlides also help clarify research, limiting incorrect or broad readings.

“The authors tell you what they mean, rather than leaving interpretation to the readers,” says Kamat.

Increasing impact

ACS LiveSlides can increase readership for researchers who use the tool. Kamat said total page views already crept above 5,000 in the first months of the program.

ACS LiveSlides doesn’t just promote authors and their articles, but also helps young scientists learn to explain their research effectively. Viewing existing ACS LiveSlides and modeling presentations after them coaches students to be eloquent and concise, and to think about communicating the significance of their work.

Says Kamat, “I use LiveSlides to train my own students.”

ACS LiveSlides as well as all JPCL Supporting Information files can be found here.

Want to submit ACS LiveSlides for your article? JPCL wants to post it. To learn more, contact Deputy Editor Prashant Kamat.

Image Credit: Thinkstock\lemur4eg

Spend a Day with Bioconjugate Chemistry EIC Vincent Rotello

Have you ever asked yourself “What does an ACS Publications Editor-in-Chief do each day?” Well, you’re not alone. We traveled to the town of Amherst, located in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts to check out the day in the life of Vincent Rotello, Editor-in-Chief of Bioconjugate Chemistry. See what a not-so-typical day is like for Prof. Rotello as he takes you from the classroom to the lab.

Learn more about Vincent Rotello and Bioconjugate Chemistry and submit your research.

ACS Drives Chemistry Patents

Patent 1Quality academic journals are the cornerstone supporting commercial innovation and scientific advance. Find out how ACS is driving corporate success and creating lucrative patents for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries…

“Sometimes, one small piece of chemical research published in a journal can power a research and development breakthrough that allows a company to make billions of dollars.”
Patents are a legal platform designed to reward innovation and encourage scientific advance, and they are big business. In 2014 there were over 615,000 patent applications in the US, including technological and manufacturing processes and novel pharmaceutical and biotech breakthroughs.

However, while spending on pharmaceutical research and development continues to increase, the number of drugs coming through to marketing approval is falling off. With many blockbuster drugs due to go off patent in the next few years, it is thought that only just over half of pharmaceutical companies have pipelines robust enough to offset the losses caused by the loss of market share to generics and biosimilars.

New technologies – even non-obvious, novel ones deserving of a patent – continuously build on published science and research. Developing a new drug is expensive and time-consuming, and at its heart pharmaceutical research and development relies on medicinal chemistry from academic libraries, both for target selection and the up-scaling of manufacturing technology. This prior art supports and informs research and patent applications, and there is a need to stay compliant when citing and using works.

For more information on how chemistry and patents work together, and information on maximizing your assets (and minimizing liabilities), sign up to receive our new whitepaper [link to LP with sign-up form].

  1. US Patent Statistics Chart, 1963–2014. Available at: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/us_stat.htm.
  2. PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Pharma 2020: Virtual R&D – Which path will you take? 2008.
  3. PhRMA. Biopharmaceutical Research & Development: The Process Behind New Medicines; 2015.
  4. Rydzewski. Real World Drug Discovery: A Chemist’s Guide to Biotech and Pharmaceutical Research. Elsevier Ltd; 2008.
  5. Verbeek et al. Linking science to technology: Using bibliographic references in patents to build linkage schemes. Scientometrics 2002;54(3):399–420.

The Chemistry of Wine


You don’t need to be a connoisseur to know that the flavors and smells associated with wine exist across a vast spectrum. But what exactly is going on to create these distinctive aromas? Read our article on the chemistry of wine to find out.

Wines offer us a variety of aroma and flavors, some flying confidently from the bottle with the pop of the cork, others developing slowly and delicately as the wine breathes, or when it hits our palette. Wine bouquets are described variously as buttery, floral, smoky, or chocolatey. They may be bestowed with labels claiming flavor notes as diverse as berries, plums, pepper, spice, nuts, cream, vanilla, oak, or grass. How can this be for a liquid made entirely from grapes? Of course, it all comes down to chemistry and the release of volatile organic compounds.

Every glass of wine has unique nuances of taste and smell that come from complex chemistry. Any bottle is 98% water and ethanol, no matter its provenance; but it’s the remaining 2% that makes the difference. The grape varietal itself is important, and there are more than 10,000 varieties used in wine making, all producing different tastes and smells, and each host to different types of yeast that play their part in fermentation. But flavor can also be impacted by external factors, such as processing and storage. For example, the type of wood used to make the barrels that the wine is aged in can add extra tannins to the mix, bringing bitterness and astringency. Climate too can have an effect, since fruit sugars develop more slowly at colder temperatures, meaning that vineyards in cooler climates make subtle, lower alcohol wines, whereas hotter locations results in stronger, more robust products. Terroir is an additional concept to take into account when considering the diverse and complex chemistry of wine. Terroir describes the character brought to the wine by the unique physical and biological growing environment that influences distinctive characteristics in the grape – from the organic and geological makeup of the soil to the particular layout of the vines and the degree of sun exposure and irrigation. There are over 60 trace elements found in wine that come from the soil – such as sodium and potassium cations that may give a salty taste. Terroir is a uniquely individual signature that would be impossible to copy, and is responsible for sensory diversity even within wines of the same variety.

Each of these elements contributes to the chemical fingerprint of the wine, and each tonal aroma can be attributed to a certain volatile molecule. Research has shown that the buttery flavors of chardonnay come from diacetyl, while the peppery notes in deep red wines like Shiraz are caused by methoxypyrazines or sesquiterpene α-ylangene. Green aromas come from 3-isobutyl-2-methoxypyrazine and C6 compounds, while tropical or grapefruit notes arise from 3-mercaptohexanol, and mint or cool eucalyptus flavors from 1,8-cineole.

Advances in wine chemistry help growers to understand their product and can give pointers on how to develop new flavor combinations. Wine making is a precision science, and with a vast number of choices to make over cultivation, process and storage, there could be many new aromas and flavors of wine yet to evolve – and for us to try. Bottoms up!

1. Herderich M et al. Terroir Effects on Grape and Wine Aroma Compounds. In: Advances in Wine Research; Ebeler et al. ACS Symposium Series. American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2015.
2. The chemistry of wine. Available at: http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2015/july/chemistry-of-wine-video.html.
3. Ebeler S. Analysis of Grape and Wine Composition and Flavor. Available at: http://presentations.acs.org/common/media-player.aspx/Fall2014/AGFD/AGFD/PODAGFD5.