14 of the Most Impactful Chemistry Research Topics

Virtual Collections include Virtual Issues, Virtual Special Issues, and ACS Selects from ACS journals. These collections reflect topics of scientific interest and are designed for experienced investigators and educators alike.

Browse Virtual Collections released by ACS Publications journals in Q1 2019:

Actinide Chemistry at the Extreme

Mushroom clouds. Glowing test tubes. Superheroes awakening. The radioactive actinide elements positioned at the bottom of the Periodic Table often conjure up such pop culture images. While there is some truth to this view, says Thomas Albrecht-Schmitt, chemists like him who study these elements find they are “so complex and mystifying that we do not need to invent fanciful tales to remain a captive audience.”

Albrecht-Schmitt, a chemistry professor and Director of the Department of Energy’s Center for Actinide Science & Technology at Florida State University, provides his perspective on these f-block elements as Guest Editor of “Actinide Chemistry at the Extreme,” an Inorganic Chemistry Virtual Issue. Built from recently published papers in Inorganic Chemistry, Organometallics, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society, this collection is designed to feature the breadth of today’s basic and applied research on the actinides.

This Virtual Issue comes during a resurgence in the field, Albrecht-Schmitt explains. Twenty years ago, few f-block chemists remained from those who sought to understand and tame radioactivity just before, during, and after World War II. The current rebirth of actinide chemistry has come about in part because researchers still look at these elements with wonder, but it is being driven more by modern needs in national security, energy production, and mitigating the environmental effects of nuclear weapons development and testing—as well as accidents such as Chernobyl and Fukushima.
As the two dozen articles in “Actinide Chemistry at the Extreme” show, today’s research goes beyond traditional themes such as nuclear energy to include the elements’ roles in catalysis, as luminescent probes, and in radiopharmaceuticals, Albrecht-Schmitt points out. “Now we understand that actinide elements display a vast array of structures, bonding, reactivity, and physical properties that we were seemingly unaware of before.”

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Catalytic Byproduct Valorization in Future Biorefineries

This Virtual Special Issue (VSI) was organized to highlight recent developments on catalytic systems devoted to the valorization of side streams generated by biomass refining, in particular their upgrading to value-added chemicals and materials. The collection of articles targets a variety of byproducts, includes diverse chemistries, and emphasizes multifunctional and nanostructured catalysts. It shows the relevance of combining precision synthesis, innovative characterization tools, theoretical understanding and guidance, and life-cycle analysis to drive catalyst design and optimization. We hope that this VSI will provide inspiration to the field, to accelerate progress towards full utilization of biobased feedstocks to fulfill sustainability criteria of future biorefineries, ultimately supporting the transition to a carbon-neutral industry.

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Celebrating 10 Years: ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces

ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces was launched in 2008 with the first issue published in January 2009. Over the past 10 years ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces has been dedicated to the publication of interdisciplinary research articles integrating knowledge from areas of materials science, engineering, biorelated sciences, and chemistry into important applications. This virtual issue is a sampling of all the great work that has been published in the journal since it launched. Here you will find articles from some of our most cited authors, most prolific authors, and some of our most read articles.

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Designing Polymers for Use in Electrochemical Energy Storage Devices

This Virtual Issue on “Designing Polymers for Use in Electrochemical Energy Storage Devices”, presents articles published in Macromolecules and ACS Macro Letters, focusing on the chemistry of macromolecules needed to advance electrochemical energy storage devices for widespread electrification of transportation and storage on the grid. Success on these fronts hinges on the development of batteries with strict design specifications that carry concomitant demands for the battery’s architecture, embodied chemistry, and individual components, which are inextricably coupled in their functions. A firm grasp of electrochemistry and transport physics is the only way to advance the field’s cutting-edge. It is important to provide long-lasting solutions that can be commercialized and deployed widely at a cost that disrupts the market, which is currently dominated by the coal, oil, and gas industries.

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Emerging Investigators in Crystal Growth & Design

The aim of Crystal Growth & Design is to stimulate cross-fertilization of knowledge among scientists and engineers working in the fields of crystal growth, crystal engineering, and the industrial application of crystalline materials. In this virtual collection, you will find 22 publications with featured authors from nine countries, which exemplify this aim and reflect state-of-the-art progress in these fields. The scope of science and application in this virtual issue is truly representative of the inclusiveness and diversity which are hallmarks of CGD. See if you can find all of the papers that touch on important topics such as Co-Crystals, Crystal Engineering, Crystal Growth, Halogen Bonding, Hydrogen Bonding, Mechanochemistry, MOFs, Nucleation, pi-pi Stacking, Simulation and Modeling, Solid State Synthesis, and Supramolecular Chemistry, or applications such as Catalysts, Nonlinear Optics, Pharmaceuticals, and Sensing, and compare these to the topics on CGD covers.

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Environmental Science & Technology and Environmental Science & Technology Letters Virtual Issue: Early Career Scientists

Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T) and Environmental Science & Technology Letters (ES&T Letters) are dedicated to publishing the most important, novel research across the full breadth of the environmental science and technology field. These journals recognizes the critical role that early career investigators play in discovering new phenomena and pioneering new approaches for solving old problems.  In recognition of these contributions, the editors of ES&T and ES&T Letters have created an Early Career Scientists Virtual Issue, highlighting a select group of 24 outstanding researchers.

For each article in this Virtual Issue, a brief description of the research and its significance is provided by one of the journal’s Associate Editors, along with a link to each Early Career Scientist’s webpage.
The scope of the science and application in this Virtual Issue is truly representative of the inclusiveness and diversity which are just one of the hallmarks of ES&T and ES&T Letters. All of these articles represent important topics covered in the journals.

The Editors of  ES&T and ES&T Letters hope this Virtual Issue will shine a light on rising Early Career Scientists, providing valuable contributions to the environmental science and technology field.

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Honoring Prof. William Jones and His Contributions to Organic Solid-State Chemistry

The collection of papers in this issue marks the profound influence William (Bill) Jones, now Emeritus Professor at the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, has had on the development of new concepts in materials science, organic solid-state chemistry, and crystal engineering. Last but not least, this issue is a testament to the tremendous support and inspiration he has provided to numerous colleagues, collaborators, students, and postdoctoral researchers throughout his career.

Jones was born in Mold (Wales, UK) in 1949. He obtained a B.Sc. (Hons) from the University College of Wales (Aberystwyth, UK) in 1971. He then pursued a Ph.D. degree at the same institution, under the guidance of Professor Sir John Meurig Thomas and Professor John O. Williams. After being awarded his Ph.D. in 1974, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Weizmann Institute (Rehovot, Israel; 1975–1976), and then moved, along with Professor Thomas, to the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK; 1978). It was there that he subsequently established his Materials Chemistry Group. Jones eventually became Head of the Department of Chemistry at Cambridge, and Deputy Director of the Pfizer Institute of Pharmaceutical Materials Sciences. He has also been a visiting professor at State University of New York (New York, USA, 1988) and at McGill University (Montreal, Canada, 2012), and an adjunct professor at the World Premier Institute (Japan, 2010–2015). His contributions to the solid-state sciences have won him many accolades throughout his career, including a Jacob London Fellowship at the Weizmann Institute (where he worked with Professor Mendel D. Cohen) and the Royal Society of Chemistry Corday Morgan Prize (awarded for the most meritorious contributions to experimental chemistry). He is President of the British Association for Crystal Growth, and an Emeritus Professorial Fellow at Sidney Sussex College (at the University of Cambridge).

Jones’s research career encompasses several areas of organic solid-state chemistry, crystal engineering, and materials science, but was primarily focused on the use of transmission electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy to study crystal defects and phase transformations; organic solid-state photochemistry; the development of crystal design strategies; and the application of mechanochemistry to the discovery of novel pharmaceutical crystal forms. Jones has always espoused a cross-disciplinary and collaborative approach to solid-state research, often strengthened by the unconventional use of the latest analytical techniques (e.g., terahertz spectroscopy, Mössbauer spectroscopy, transmission electron and atomic force microscopy), computational tools (e.g., crystal structure prediction), and innovative synthetic methods (e.g., liquid-assisted grinding, previously known as solvent-drop grinding). In the next few sections, we reflect on his long fruitful scientific career and his many outstanding contributions to organic solid-state chemistry and crystal engineering.

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JCED: Fostering Molecular Modeling and Simulation as a Source of Physical Property and Phase Equilibrium Data

The Journal of Chemical & Engineering Data (JCED) tagline reads “thermophysical properties and phase equilibria from experiment & computation.” Authors and readers should note the “& computation”. JCED aims to showcase molecular modeling and simulation as complementary techniques that are a source of reliable and accurate physical property and phase equilibrium data.

David A. Kofke (University at Buffalo) and J. Ilja Siepmann (University of Minnesota), JCED Associate Editors, are active and practicing researchers with the technical expertise to manage the community’s computational modeling and simulation submissions. In a previous Editorial article, Kofke and Siepmann described how JCEDis evolving to accommodate contributions that report results obtained from methods based on molecular modeling and simulation. JCED has a forthcoming special issue collecting works from the 7th conference on the Foundations of Molecular Modeling and Simulation (FOMMS) and this will give additional prominence to contributions in this area.

Several of JCED’s current Editorial Advisory Board members are active in the molecular modeling and simulation community: Felipe Blas (Universidad de Huelva, Spain), Ioannis G. Economou (Texas A&M University at Qatar, Qatar), Amparo Galindo(Imperial College London, United Kingdom), Robert Hellmann (University of Rostock, Germany), Félix Llovell (Universitat Ramon Llull, Spain), Edward J. Maginn (University of Notre Dame), Jim Pfaendtner (University of Washington), Albert Striolo (University College London, United Kingdom), Frederico W. Tavares (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), and Jadran Vrabec (Universität Paderborn, Germany).

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Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Research at Soochow University

Soochow University was established in 1900 in the historic and picturesque city of Suzhou and was the first university in China to adopt a modern university governance system. Next year, Soochow University will celebrate its 120th anniversary. To promote research in nanoscience and nanotechnology, Soochow University founded the Institute of Functional Nano & Soft Materials (FUNSOM) in 2008. In this Virtual Issue, ACS Nano joins the celebration by featuring select papers published in ACS Nano by researchers from FUNSOM and Soochow University.

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Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at Universität Hamburg

Universität Hamburg is one of the largest research-oriented universities in Germany with well above 40,000 students. This virtual issue coincides with the 100th anniversary of Universität Hamburg and its recent success in the Excellence Strategy of the Federal and State Governments. In this Virtual Issue, ACS Nano joins the celebration by featuring select papers published in ACS Nano by researchers from Universität Hamburg.

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Recent Developments in Nitrogen Reduction Catalysts: A Virtual Issue

The Virtual Issue “Recent Developments in Nitrogen Reduction Catalysts” showcases recent work published in ACS Energy Letters, ACS Catalysis, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society between 2016 and 2018 that focuses on improving the efficiency, performance, and mechanistic understanding of non-conventional catalysts and catalytic processes for nitrogen reduction to ammonia. Over a hundred years ago, Haber and Bosch invented and scaled up the process for the formation of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen. This revolutionary technology was necessary to produce the required quantities of ammonia, which is critical for the production of fertilizers. Unfortunately, the required high temperature and pressure operation decreases equilibrium conversion, and increases the capital costs. The negative impact of the required temperature and pressure has motivated researchers to consider alternative approaches for N2 activation and fixation, through biological and non-thermal catalytic processes. These cross-disciplinary articles provide some of the latest advances in the field.

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Research from the 255th American Chemical Society National Meeting

Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research is pleased to publish this virtual special issue of several recent research articles invited from authors who made outstanding presentations at the 255th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. The authors were selected from a broad cross section of symposia that aligned with I&EC Research subject areas, and the contributions involve studies with catalysts, polymers, and ionic liquids. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research is delighted to showcase these 12 articles and feature these authors. The invited speakers from ACS New Orleans are indicated below by their name in bold.

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Tailoring Resource-Efficient Catalysts for Sustainable Energy and Chemical Processes

This Virtual Special Issue of ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering was organized to highlight recent developments on photocatalysts, electrocatalysts, and heterogeneous catalysts for the efficient production of sustainable energy and chemicals using fewer resources and generating less waste. The collection of articles targets the advancement and prospect of catalysis science and technology in artificial photo-synthesis, biomass conversion, green chemicals, hydrogen production and storage, as well as clean coal and hydrocarbon transformation. These papers combine novel catalyst design and synthesis with the advanced characterization and efficient reaction processes, the obtained knowledge will accelerate towards the pre-design of high-performance catalysts for the grand challenges in energy and chemical industry.

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William M. Jackson Festschrift

William M. Jackson, Jr. is an astrochemist who observes comets with both ground-based and satellite telescopes. He uses lasers to study the photochemistry that can lead to the radicals and atoms formed from the stable molecules that are present in comets, and he has recently investigated the photochemistry of CO, N2, and CO2, which have all been observed in comets, planetary atmospheres, and the interstellar medium. He was the leader of the team that made the first satellite measurements of cometary spectra in the vacuum ultraviolet region with the International Ultraviolet Telescope. His laboratory pioneered the use of tunable dye lasers to detect free radicals, characterize their properties, and measure the rates of their reactions in the laboratory. He has recently exploited resonant-enhanced four-wave mixing to generate tunable VUV laser radiation to photodissociate CO, N2, and CO2 from state-selected excited states and to selectively ionize the atomic fragments that are detected with a velocity imaging time-of-flight mass spectrometer. These experiments provide fundamental data that is required in modeling systems where photons and other energetic particles can provide enough energy to destroy these molecules. Since they are performed on well-characterized isolated molecules in molecular beams, they provide benchmark data to compare with high-quality theoretical calculations that advance the methods of quantum chemistry.

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