February 2019 - ACS Axial | ACS Publications

A New Chapter for William Jones

Crystal Growth and Design’s latest Special Issue celebrates William B. Jones’ career as he embarks on a new chapter in his professional life. Jones is now an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, the President of the British Association for Crystal Growth, and an emeritus professional fellow at Sidney Sussex College. Jones was previously an EAB member (2014-2018) and prolific author, with 20 publications written in Crystal Growth & Design. Throughout his career, Jones has had a profound influence on the development of new concepts in materials science, organic solid-state chemistry, and crystal engineering, and his contributions to the solid-state sciences have garnered significant recognition.

Jones’ career began at the University College of Wales, where he earned his B.Sc. (1971) and Ph.D. (1974) under the guidance of Professor Sir John Meurig Thomas and Professor John O. Williams. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship, Jones moved with Professor Thomas to the University of Cambridge in 1978, where the two founded the Materials Chemistry Group.

Jones later became the Head of the Chemistry Department at Cambridge, the Deputy Director of the Pfizer Institute of Pharmaceutical Materials Science, and has been a visiting professor at various institutions throughout his career, including McGill University, World Premiere Institute, and the State University of New York.

Jones’ contributions to the solid-state sciences have won him many accolades throughout his career, including the Jacob London Fellowship at Weizmann Institute and the Royal Society of Chemistry Corday Morgan Prize.

Learn more about Bill Jones’ fruitful scientific career and his outstanding contributions to organic solid-state chemistry and crystal engineering by reading the Special Issue.

Access the Special Issue: “Honoring Prof. William Jones and His Contributions to Organic Solid-State Chemistry”

Congratulations to the Recipients of the Spring 2019 ACS Publications Librarian Travel Grant!

ACS Publications and the Award Committee are excited to announce the recipients of the ACS Publications Travel Grant for Librarians and Library School Students to attend the ACS Spring 2019 National Meeting & Exposition in Orlando:


Tim Berge, West Virginia University

Tim Berge is the Science Librarian at West Virginia University. He received his MLS from Indiana University. Prior to his current position worked as the First Year Experience Librarian at SUNY Oswego. He grew up in Idaho and likes running long distances.


Emily Hart, Syracuse University

Twitter: @iHartLibraries

Emily Hart is the Science and Engineering Librarian at Syracuse University. She is a liaison librarian serving 10 STEM-related departments, including Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Biochemistry, and Forensic Science. Hart completed her B.A. in English with a minor in Education at St. Bonaventure University, and her M.L.S. and an Advanced Certificate in Educational Technology at the University at Buffalo. Hart has specialized in supporting science research for over 10 years. She is an active member of the American Society for Engineering Education. She has presented at local and national conferences, most recently on topics related to assessment and STEM graduate programming and outreach. Her research interests include assessment, scholarly communications, graduate student outreach, instruction, and emerging technologies.


Kirsty Thomson, Heriot-Watt University

Twitter: @kirsty_thomson

Kirsty Thomson is the Academic Support and Liaison Librarian for Engineering and Physical Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, U.K. She is also the librarian for Heriot-Watt’s campus in the Orkney Isles, off the northern tip of Scotland.

Thomson has been working at Heriot-Watt for seven years, and prior to this she worked at the University of the West of Scotland, and at the University of Stirling. She did her librarianship qualification at Robert Gordon University and has an undergraduate degree in Zoology from the University of Edinburgh.

Thomson is a chartered librarian and volunteers as a mentor for candidates going through the CILIP Chartership process. Her professional interests include support for distance learners, student inductions, and methods for making information literacy instruction more fun.


All three winners of this meeting’s grants will be sharing their experiences from the Spring National Meeting in future ACS Axial articles.

ACS Publications would like to thank the members of the Award Committee and want to thank everyone who applied for the travel grant. We encourage all librarians and students to keep their eyes open for a call for applications for the next ACS National Meeting to be held in Fall 2019 in San Diego.

Building a DIY Plate Reader

A determined group of undergraduate students has designed a plate reader—an instrument for measuring the light absorption and fluorescence signals within microwell plates used ubiquitously for biological assays—that costs less than $3,500 to build and detects fluorescent dyes at concentrations as low as 10 nM. The open-source device, which is one-tenth the cost of commercially available plate readers, is a great option for low-resource laboratories or for educational settings, its developers say.

“If you think about enabling technologies for any biology or bioengineering lab, a plate reader is top of the list, after maybe a fluorescence microscope,” says Brian Y. Chow, a bioengineer at the University of Pennsylvania. Chow, the study’s corresponding author, was the students’ mentor on the project.

The work began as part of an annual synthetic biology contest for undergraduates called iGEM—the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition. Chow, who helped launch the contest when he was a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, notes that undergraduates are often daunted by the prospect of learning the molecular biology involved in cloning a genetic circuit designed to perform specific cellular tasks. So when advising his university’s 2017 team, he proposed that the students tackle a hardware project instead.

A plate reader consists of a spectrophotometer that detects light absorption or emission from biological, chemical, or physical reactions; a motion stage that moves individual wells into position for detection; and software that analyzes the data collected by the spectrophotometer. With guidance from Chow and a graduate student advisor, the undergraduate team worked through how to develop these key components.

Initially, the group tried to build custom detectors out of cameras and diffraction gratings, but eventually they found a commercial detector that could be purchased at the same cost.

Commercial plate readers generally rely on high-end motors to precisely position the plate in front of the detector, so one challenge was to obtain good motion control cheaply. The group’s solution was to create the frame of the plate reader out of t-slotted aluminum, a hardware component that not only is easy to assemble – “almost like Legos for building metal structures,” Chow says – but also acts as a built-in guide rail for the motion stage in which the plate rests. That allowed the team to use a simpler motor.

They programmed the software with Python, widely-used in science and engineering, to run on a small, basic computer called Raspberry Pi (though it works with any computer). Finally, they validated the device using representative biological and biochemical reactions. The DIY machine gave results comparable to a commercial plate reader and its detection limit is sufficient for many applications, including ELISA, Chow adds.

The team developed more than 100 pages of documentation for both the hardware and the software, “down to the level of how you solder or screw in every part,” Chow says. With these specs, researchers who want to build a plate reader but don’t have a machine shop can outsource the job without incurring much cost, Chow says.

“Making science more open source and DIY is a good thing,” Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, a bioengineer at Stanford University, says. In addition to much-reduced cost, a lab that builds its own plate reader can adapt the device to its specific needs — for example, by incorporating filters or adapting software for the experiments most relevant to the group’s research, he says. “And it’s something that undergraduates or early graduate students can do, which is a great learning experience.”

Now that the documentation has been released, Chow is keen to hear suggestions for improving it. “The main hope is that other people use it and get utility out of it, and that they give us feedback,” he says.

This article is reproduced with permission from C&EN (© American Chemical Society). The article was first published on January 11, 2019.

The Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation Shares Unique Perspectives

The Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation publishes papers reporting new theories, methodology, and/or important applications in quantum electronic structure, molecular dynamics, and statistical mechanics. Perspectives are interpretive accounts on subjects of current interest in the chemical theory and computational field. Perspectives are the intended forum for experts to present their viewpoints on emerging or active areas of research that affect the research community practices.

For example, manuscripts that introduce new concepts, proposing original models, offering the author’s interpretation of statistical trends, are published as Perspectives. Here is a compilation of our highly read Perspectives:

Theory of Adaptive Optimization for Umbrella Sampling
J. Chem. Theory Comput., 2014, 10 (7), pp 2719–2728
DOI: 10.1021/ct500504g


Constant pH Molecular Dynamics in Explicit Solvent with Enveloping Distribution Sampling and Hamiltonian Exchange
J. Chem. Theory Comput., 2014, 10 (7), pp 2738–2750
DOI: 10.1021/ct500175m


Evaluation of CM5 Charges for Condensed-Phase Modeling
J. Chem. Theory Comput., 2014, 10 (7), pp 2802–2812
DOI: 10.1021/ct500016d


Finding Reaction Pathways of Type A + B → X: Toward Systematic Prediction of Reaction Mechanisms
J. Chem. Theory Comput., 2011, 7 (8), pp 2335–2345
DOI: 10.1021/ct200290m


Perspectives on Basis Sets Beautiful: Seasonal Plantings of Diffuse Basis Functions
J. Chem. Theory Comput., 2011, 7 (10), pp 3027–3034
DOI: 10.1021/ct200106a


Give us your Perspective! We invite you to send us pre-submission inquiries on potential topic ideas for future Perspectives. For more information on submitting your perspective, visit our submission guidelines page.

Spanish National Research Award Presented to ACS Nano’s Luis M. Liz-Marzán

ACS Nano Associate Editor Professor Luis M. Liz-Marzán is the winner of the Spanish National Research Award “Enrique Moles” in Chemical Science and Technology.  He received the award from King Felipe VI  and Queen Letizia during a ceremony on February 21, 2019. In awarding him the prize, the jury emphasized his work expanding the frontiers of nanotechnology, especially in the biomedical field. ACS Publications congratulates him on his achievement.

Professor Liz-Marzán is the Scientific Director of CIC biomaGUNE, San Sebastián, Spain and serves as the Ikerbasque Research Professor. His research focuses on the synthesis, properties, and applications of plasmonic metal nanoparticles and assemblies, as well as the control of nanomaterials in one, two, and three dimensions. He was the inaugural ACS Nano award lecturer for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East and has been an active author and member of our editorial advisory board. He was previously a senior editor at Langmuir and a founding co-editor at ACS Omega, before joining the editorial board of ACS Nano this year.

His research focuses on the synthesis, characterization, and applications of nanoparticles and their assemblies. His achievements in synthesizing gold and silver nanoparticles of different shapes and morphologies helped give rise to the research field of nanoplasmonics.

I started as a colloid chemist who was attracted by the excitement of nanoscience, in terms of the synthesis of monodisperse metal nanoparticles and characterization of their optical (plasmonic) properties,” he says. “I soon realized that these systems and their properties could become much more interesting if we were able to develop methods to tailor the surface chemistry of nanoparticles and thereby driving their assembly in one, two and three dimensions. We are currently finding applications for these exciting materials, mainly in surface enhanced spectroscopies, nanoparticle-based sensing and diagnostic tools.”

Read a Recent Featured Paper from Professor Luis M. Liz-Marzán

Gold Nanoparticle Plasmonic Superlattices as Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy Substrates
ACS Nano, 2018, 12 (8), pp 8531–8539
DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.8b04073



ACS Editors’ Choice: Direct Writing of Tunable Living Inks — and More!

This week: direct writing of tunable living inks — 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!
SPR-Measured Dissociation Kinetics of PROTAC Ternary Complexes Influence Target Degradation Rate

ACS Chem. Biol., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acschembio.9b00092
A Biochemical Nickel(I) State Supports Nucleophilic Alkyl Addition: A Roadmap for Methyl Reactivity in Acetyl Coenzyme A Synthase

Inorg. Chem., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.8b03546
Direct Writing of Tunable Living Inks for Bioprocess Intensification

Nano Lett., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b00066
Deposition and Confinement of Li Metal along an Artificial Lipon–Lipon Interface

ACS Energy Lett., 2019, 4, pp 651–655
DOI: 10.1021/acsenergylett.8b02542
Biophysical Characterization Platform Informs Protein Scaffold Evolvability

ACS Comb. Sci., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acscombsci.8b00182
Identification and Preclinical Evaluation of the Bicyclic Pyrimidine γ-Secretase Modulator BMS-932481

ACS Med. Chem. Lett., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acsmedchemlett.8b00541
6-Amino-3-methylpyrimidinones as Potent, Selective, and Orally Efficacious SHP2 Inhibitors

J. Med. Chem., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.8b01726

Get the Scoop on the Latest Computational Tools for Chemists

The need for new and updated computational tools for proteomics never ceases, as the instrumentation and experimental methodology for data generation continue to evolve. A new biennial series carried out by Journal of Proteome Research will make it easier to find and select new tools in proteomics and related domains.

In the first Special Issue dedicated to this cause, you will find a full list of software tools, web applications, databases for data analysis, and visualization that are user-friendly, easily adaptable, and have broad applicability in proteomics workflow and merit wide dissemination.

According to the editorial written by the guest editors of this Special Issue, “The described tools cover a range of applications and topics that are useful in different stages in a data analysis workflow, from working with raw mass spectrometry data and evaluating data quality to visualizing protein interaction networks as an endpoint of an analysis. The diversity of the tools spans quantifying proteins to analyzing post-translational modifications and expanding analyses into metabolomics or transcriptomics. Some are web-based, whereas others have custom graphical user interfaces or are collections of R or Python functions for use in R or Python scripts, respectively. This diversity underscores the versatility of software tools available in proteomics and permits the selection of the best fit based on, for example, user expertise or analysis platform.”

Access the Special Issue.

A Hot Take on Rewritable Paper

Paper often faces a short useful life, with printed products ending up in the trash or recycling bin soon after they’re read. Researchers have worked to reduce this waste by making paper that can be written on and cleared several times over. A new approach uses relatively simple chemistry to make rewritable paper that can be written on with mild heat and erased by freezing.

Many approaches to developing rewritable paper have emerged over the past 15 years, but they have their limitations. Some use complicated, time-consuming fabrication methods. Others need ultraviolet light or chemical reagents to erase the printed content, or a continuous power supply for the printing to remain visible. A team led by Luzhuo Chen of Fujian Normal University set out to devise a more practical, easier-to-produce solution—paper that allows people to repeatedly write and erase content just by raising or lowering the temperature.

To fabricate their paper, the researchers first screen-printed one side of a sheet of paper with a thermochromic dye mixture that changes color with changes in temperature—specifically, it changes from blue to colorless when heated. They then laser printed the other side of the paper with black toner that gives off heat when excited by infrared light.

The thermochromic mixture contains three components—including crystal violet lactone (CVL), a color developer, and a solvent—found in ink used in erasable pens. Below a certain low threshold temperature, the electron-accepting color developer and the CVL form a complex and crystallize, opening the lactone ring on CVL to create a blue color. But above a higher color-changing temperature, the CVL and the color developer dissolve in the solvent, separating from each other, which allows the lactone ring to close, turning the compound colorless. In addition, the dissolution of the two components turns the solvent liquid, so the compound stays colorless even when cooled. Cooling the dye back down to below the threshold temperature recrystallizes the two components into the solid state, which allows them to interact again and opens the lactone ring, restoring the mixture’s blue color.

Chen and colleagues determined the exact threshold temperatures for writing and erasing—that is, the temperatures that make the blue thermochromic dye mixture colorless and return it to blue. They gradually heated the paper from room temperature, or 20 °C, to 80 °C on a hot plate and then cooled it to below 20 °C in a freezer. Using absorption spectroscopy, they measured any resulting color changes.

Above 65 °C, the paper surface turned from blue to colorless and remained so during cooling. Only when the temperature dipped below -10 °C did the surface turn blue again, suggesting the paper can retain writing even at room temperature. The team saw the same color-change patterns even after repeating the heating and cooling process 100 times, evidence of the paper’s reusability.

Next, the researchers wrote on the paper with an electric pen that uses heat as “ink.” They also used a thermal printer to print text and images on the paper, and shone infrared light through a stencil to print images on transparent cell phone cases with the rewritable paper inside them. The text and images remained visible even after storing the printed materials on lab benches at room temperature for six months. As before, the paper became completely blue again in about five minutes below -10 °C.

Christopher Luettgen of the Georgia Institute of Technology says the composition of the coating the researchers used on their paper appears to be “new and unique,” resembling the coating used on glossy, magazine-grade paper.

But Luettgen doubts whether rewritable paper will actually cut back on paper waste, in part because he believes it has a high potential to cause problems with recycling. Mary Anne White of Dalhousie University also has concerns about the wastefulness of the fabrication method, which involves “printing the whole piece of paper blue on one side and black on the other,” she says. “You can imagine how much that requires in terms of compounds.” But these concerns aside, “the manufacturing process seems fairly simple and straightforward,” making it feasible to expand to commercial scales, Luettgen says.

Chen believes his group’s paper could have a variety of practical applications, such as in labels or sticky notes. But Luettgen doubts consumers would want their notes or drawings to disappear; he views rewritable paper as more suitable for a niche market, perhaps for use as a novelty toy.

This article is reproduced with permission from C&EN (© American Chemical Society). The article was first published on January 03, 2019.

Uncovering the Artwork on ACS Inorganic & Organic Journal Covers

To celebrate an exciting 2018 for Inorganic Chemistry, Organometallics, and The Journal of Organic Chemistry, ACS Publications has created posters featuring the vibrant cover art from the 24 issues published in each of these journals last year.

Cover artwork says a lot about chemists: Scientists do more than just research, they like to express their creativity and take pride in attractively presenting their results.

Download a high-resolution pdf of your favorite journal cover poster below—use as a screensaver, share on social media, share with colleagues and members of your research group, and print your own (designed for  18 x 24 inches/457 mm x 610 mm) to hang in your office, lab, or prominent location in your department.

You can also access high-resolution versions of each cover featured on the posters in the Cover Art Gallery on each journal’s website—check out 2018 and prior years:

Cover Art Criteria

At Inorganic Chemistry, the Editor-in-Chief’s office contacts authors of submitted papers to invite Front Cover artwork, however, volunteer front cover suggestions are considered. The journal is looking for aesthetically pleasing covers that exhibit simplicity, clarity, and eye-catching graphics. Some sheets may include supporting text if the artwork is not self-explanatory.

At Organometallics, the Editor-in-Chief’s office contacts authors of submitted papers to invite Front Cover artwork, however, volunteer front cover suggestions are considered. The journal is looking for visually captivating and scientifically interesting covers that exhibit simplicity and clarity. Please see the Author Guidelines for more details on graphics requirements.

At The Journal of Organic Chemistry, the Editor-in-Chief’s office contacts authors of submitted papers to invite Front Cover artwork, however, volunteer front cover suggestions are considered. The journal is looking for cover art that is visually captivating as well as scientifically interesting. No text can be included on the cover, as it should reflect the science using the graphical elements. The cover should not have pictures of persons alive or dead or places/names that are connected to the place where the research was conducted.

ACS journals also offer all authors to promote their work through Supplementary Covers, up to three of which are published each issue, with voluntary submissions subject to a selection process and processing fee.

Submit Your Next Paper

While you are at it, consider submitting your next paper to Inorganic Chemistry, Organometallics, or The Journal of Organic Chemistry.

  • Inorganic Chemistry is the premier journal in its field, publishing fundamental studies focused on structure, bonding, spectroscopy, and reactivity of molecular and extended solid-state compounds and materials from across the periodic table.
  • Organometallics is the flagship publication of organometallic chemistry, publishing research on synthesis, structure, bonding, chemical reactivity, and reaction mechanisms for a variety of applications, including catalyst design and catalytic processes, transition-metal and main-group inorganic chemistry, synthetic aspects of polymer and materials science, and bioorganometallic chemistry.
  • The Journal of Organic Chemistry is the premier forum for publishing inquisitive and thorough studies on all aspects of organic chemistry, from new reactions, structures, and functions through to their scope, mechanisms, and applications.

The Editorial Teams at these journals look forward to you submitting your group’s future work in 2019 and beyond. ACS salutes and thanks to all editors, reviewers, and authors for the many roles you play that contribute to the global chemistry community.

Improving the Conductivity of a Solid Electrolyte

s electric cars grow in popularity, automobile makers are looking to pack more energy per volume into the cars’ batteries. One possible approach is to use batteries with lithium-metal anodes and solid electrolytes, but these batteries don’t yet match the performance of standard lithium-ion batteries because ions don’t move efficiently enough through the electrolytes. Now, one group of researchers has found that tweaking the chemistry of a promising solid electrolyte material increases its ionic conductivity by nearly four orders of magnitude. This improvement could lead to a lithium-metal battery powerful enough for practical use.

The material in question is an agyrodite, a class of lithium thiophosphates whose crystalline structure seems well suited to the movement of lithium ions. The researchers knew that the structure could be tweaked to make the ions flow even more easily, and they believe the material could be adapted to large-scale production. The researchers wanted to see if they could increase the ionic conductivity of one agyrodite, lithium phosphorus germanium sulfur iodide, which has the worst conductivity in its class. They replaced some of the phosphorus atoms with additional germanium which has a +4 charge compared with phosphorus’s +5 charge. That allowed the researchers to add more positively charged lithium to the material to balance its charge, increasing the number of charge-carrying lithium ions in the battery.

Researchers predicted that the substitution would increase the conductivity of the material by less than an order of magnitude, so they were surprised to find it went substantially higher—to 5.4 mS/cm when squeezed into pellets at room temperature, and to 18.4 mS/cm after heating and sintering the pellets together. “Suddenly the worst ionic conductor we have in this class of materials becomes the best one,” Wolfgang Zeier, a materials scientist at Justus Liebig University Giessen who led the work, says.

Zeier thinks the jump in conductivity has to do with the way the germanium atoms, which are larger than phosphorus atoms, increased the size of the crystal’s unit cells. Changing the structure, he says, may have opened up more diffusion pathways for the ions to traverse.

The higher conductivity allows the use of a thicker cathode, which increases the battery’s energy density. The electrode Zeier’s team designed was approximately 160 µm thick, compared with about 50 µm in previous agyrodite systems. The team built a battery out of their material and put it through 150 charge-discharge cycles with little drop in capacity, which is important for the lifetime of a rechargeable battery.

One concern is the expense of germanium. Zeier says he’s tried out other, cheaper elements and gotten similar results, though he doesn’t want to identify them because of the battery’s commercial potential. But he points out that one of the material’s precursors, lithium sulfide, accounts for most of the cost of the material.

John Goodenough, a materials scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, whose work led to the invention of the lithium-ion battery, says agyrodites are interesting but expensive and unstable at high voltages, meaning they probably can’t compete commercially with other solid-state electrolytes.

But Zeier says stability is not much of an issue as long as there’s a protective coating on the cathode, which is necessary in many other types of batteries. “Once you have a good protective coating, it prevents electrolyte decomposition, and the solid-state batteries run really well with the argyrodites due to their good conductivity,” he says.

This article is reproduced with permission from C&EN (© American Chemical Society). The article was first published on December 17, 2018.