Yes, 2019 is the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT), so declared by the United Nations and the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Mendeleev’s Periodic Table. For chemists, this has brought forth all sorts of celebratory events and encouraged many to write about the rich history of chemistry and how the Periodic Table came into being and its role as a crossword-like roadmap for finding our way among the elements.
The fascinating backstory of the Periodic Table, of course, goes beyond putting elements in cubbyholes and leaving them there. It transcends our ability simply to know the elements and their periodic properties. This IYPT story is about our ability to combine the elements in new and exciting ways to make things that might be useful for us. With the Periodic Table, we have a pantry full of ingredients, the ingredients of the universe, that is, which are at our disposal to use in seeking out the limits of our creativity. Why do you suppose most science classrooms have a Periodic Table on the wall? It is to provide us inspiration to push the envelope of discovery.
We do have to exercise a bit of caution, as every chemist knows the elements can be fickle. A nice little chemistry joke is the one about how you can’t trust the elements (or atoms, at least) —they make up everything. And that is a good thing. But seriously folks, we want to share with you a few of our favorite things that we came across in our jobs as chemists that speak to the diversity of the elements and what we can accomplish. These vignettes culminate with a further selection of articles from the journals we work on—a Virtual Issue featuring research from across the Periodic Table, from hydrogen to curium.
We can start with this year’s Nobel Prizes. In chemistry, a trio received the award for their work on lithium-ion batteries—it doesn’t get any more elemental than that. These researchers have regularly published in ACS journals for decades. One of the articles in our Virtual Issue collection, on lithium-oxygen batteries, was published in ACS Central Science.
In medicine, three researchers got the nod for their work on the role of oxygen in cellular biology. We can’t live without oxygen, and its role in the body is complex. One article in this Virtual Issue describes the many roles of metals in biology, including iron, nickel, cobalt, copper, zinc, and manganese, in facilitating processes such as oxygen transport; it is part of an Inorganic Chemistry Forum on the topic.
In physics, the three laureates were recognized for their work on the nature of matter in the universe and planets circling distant stars. Chemistry also has strong ties to the solar system. While hydrogen and helium make up most of the gases in space, complex organic molecules have also been identified. The three-carbon keto ring cyclopropenone was detected in interstellar space, as referenced in this recent total synthesis of the cyclopropenone-containing natural product lineariifolianone reported in The Journal of Organic Chemistry. We are developing a pretty good knowledge of which elements are necessary for life to occur. However, it’s beyond the scope of this Virtual Issue to dig into the mechanisms of how life began, though we know the answer is out there somewhere in our galaxy.
Turning to other elemental greatness, at the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference held this past June, Frank Bernardoni, a Principal Scientist at Merck, presented an interesting poster during the Industrial Showcase on using hydrogen as a “green” carrier gas for chromatography in pharmaceutical research. Who knew this unique application was feasible? Other Merck colleagues just published a deeper report in Accounts of Chemical Research. In our Virtual Issue, we list a more traditional use for hydrogen: a “sweet” hydrogenation reaction of hemicellulose to xylitol reported in Organic Process Research & Development.
Fluorine is a wunderkind element, enhancing the properties of all sorts of compounds for many applications. Take fluoroacetate, one of the very few natural fluorinated organic molecules. Recently, a nice story about this compound as an essential pesticide was reported. Chemists do need to continue to develop new methods for synthesizing fluorinated compounds, and to that end, one article in the Virtual Issue from Chemical Reviews points out the budding catalytic relationship between gold and fluorine.
Not to be outdone by its more buzzworthy Periodic Table neighbor, sulfur has also proven to be an important component in agriculture and medicine—even if the rotten egg smell of its compounds cautions the odor-conscious chemist. An Organic Letters contribution to this Virtual Issue takes the best of both worlds and shows how sulfite and an inexpensive difluoromethylating reagent can be used to synthesize fluoro- and sulfur-containing compounds. Perhaps a new chapter in the relationship between fluorine and sulfur is also on the horizon.
When the Periodic Table was created, there were 60+ known elements; now we are up to 118, including the human-made ones. Among the latter type, we still have a lot to learn, and in turn this new knowledge may lead us back into the core of the Periodic Table to continue our learning about elements we thought we already had all figured out. For example, copernicium, we just learned, is a volatile liquid with a density similar to mercury, yet it exhibits noble‐gas‐like character. This hot end of the Periodic Table is the subject of a study in our collection from the Journal of the American Chemical Society on ligands for advanced separation processes. These ligands are fundamental for handling actinide elements critical in developing nuclear fuels and for solving environmental issues related to the management of nuclear waste.
As we eluded to starting out, IYPT inspired many people to wax poetic about the Periodic Table and its virtues. We leave you with one last breath of inspiration: Seek out Mary Soon Lee’s recent poetry collection, “Elemental Haiku,” designed to “honor the Periodic Table three lines at a time.” It features a ditty for each of the 118 elements, and even one to grow on for as-yet-discovered element 119. And it comes with a Periodic Table.
Please have a look at the Virtual Issue featuring “elemental” articles from the ACS multidisciplinary journals The Journal of the American Chemical Society, Chemical Reviews, Accounts of Chemical Research, ACS Central Science, Journal of Chemical Education, and ACS Omega, as well as the Inorganic/Organic portfolio including Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Letters, Organometallics, The Journal of Organic Chemistry, and Organic Process Research & Development, plus the Journal of Natural Products and ACS Combinatorial Science.
Nicole Camasso is the Development Editor for The Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Stephen Ritter is the Managing Editor for Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Letters, Organometallics, and The Journal of Organic Chemistry.
One-Pot Selective Conversion of Hemicellulose to Xylitol
Org. Process Res. Dev. 2017, 21, 2, 165-170
Characterizing Students’ Mechanistic Reasoning about London Dispersion Forces
J. Chem. Educ. 2016, 93, 10, 1713-1724
Nanoengineered Ultralight and Robust All-Metal Cathode for High-Capacity, Stable Lithium–Oxygen Batteries
ACS Cent. Sci. 2017, 3, 6, 598-604
Formation and Properties of the Trichloroberyllate Ion
Inorg. Chem. 2018, 57, 18, 11314-11317
Controlling Isomerization Selectivity in Chiral, Photochromic N,C-Chelate Organoboron Systems with Extended π-Conjugation
72018, 83, 19, 11970-11977
Synthesis of (+)-Lineariifolianone and Related Cyclopropenone-Containing Sesquiterpenoids
J. Org. Chem. 2019, 84, 9, 5524-5534
Natural Products Containing a Nitrogen–Sulfur Bond
J. Nat. Prod. 2018, 81, 2, 423-446
Emerging Opportunities To Manipulate Metal Trafficking for Therapeutic Benefit
Inorg. Chem. 2019, 58, 20, 13528-13545
Fluorine and Gold: A Fruitful Partnership
Chem. Rev. 2016, 116, 19, 11924-11966
Catalytic Geminal Difluorination of Styrenes for the Construction of Fluorine-rich Bioisosteres
Org. Lett. 2018, 20, 24, 8073-8076
Rocking Chair Desalination Battery Based on Prussian Blue Electrodes
ACS Omega 2017, 2, 4, 1653-1659
Low-Energy Electronic Transition in SiB Rings
Organometallics 2019, 38, 8, 1688-1698
31P NMR Chemical Shifts of Phosphorus Probes as Reliable and Practical Acidity Scales for Solid and Liquid Catalysts
Chem. Rev. 2017, 117, 19, 12475-12531
Golden Face of Phosphine: Cascade Reaction to Bridgehead Methanophosphocines by Intramolecular Double Hydroarylation
Org. Lett. 2019, 21, 1, 45-49
Sulfite-Promoted Synthesis of N-Difluoromethylthioureas via the Reaction of Azoles with Bromodifluoroacetate and Elemental Sulfur
Org. Lett. 2019, 21, 2, 545-548
Antitubercular and Cytotoxic Chlorinated seco-Cyclohexenes from Uvaria alba
J. Nat. Prod. 2017, 80, 12, 3319-3323
Photochemical In-Flow Synthesis of 2,4-Methanopyrrolidines: Pyrrolidine Analogues with Improved Water Solubility and Reduced Lipophilicity
J. Org. Chem. 2018, 83, 23, 14350-14361
Strategies Employing Transition Metal Complexes To Modulate Amyloid-β Aggregation
Inorg. Chem. 2019, 58, 1, 8-17
Toxicity of Metal Compounds: Knowledge and Myths
Organometallics 2017, 36, 21, 4071-4090
Selective Hydrogenation of Halogenated Nitroaromatics to Haloanilines in Batch and Flow
Org. Process Res. Dev. 2016, 20, 2, 452-464
Manganese and Cobalt in the Nonheme-Metal-Binding Site of a Biosynthetic Model of Heme-Copper Oxidase Superfamily Confer Oxidase Activity through Redox-Inactive Mechanism
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 35, 12209-12218
Catalytic N2-to-NH3 Conversion by Fe at Lower Driving Force: A Proposed Role for Metallocene-Mediated PCET
ACS Cent. Sci. 2017, 3, 3, 217-223
Exploring the Alcohol Stability of Bis(phosphine) Cobalt Dialkyl Precatalysts in Asymmetric Alkene Hydrogenation
Organometallics 2019, 38, 1, 149-156
Nanoreactor of MOF-Derived Yolk–Shell Co@C–N: Precisely Controllable Structure and Enhanced Catalytic Activity
ACS Catal. 2018, 8, 2, 1417-1426
Use of Catalytic Static Mixers for Continuous Flow Gas–Liquid and Transfer Hydrogenations in Organic Synthesis
Org. Process Res. Dev. 2017, 21, 9, 1311-1319
Is the Total Concentration of a Heavy Metal in Soil a Suitable Tool for Assessing the Environmental Risk? Considering the Case of Copper
J. Chem. Educ. 2017, 94, 8, 1133-1136
Piezoresistive Response of Quasi-One-Dimensional ZnO Nanowires Using an in Situ Electromechanical Device
ACS Omega 2017, 2, 6, 2985-2993
A Mechanistic Study of Methanol-to-Aromatics Reaction over Ga-Modified ZSM-5 Zeolites: Understanding the Dehydrogenation Process
ACS Catal. 2018, 8, 10, 9809-9820
Determination of Arsenic in Sinus Wash and Tap Water by Inductively Coupled Plasma–Mass Spectrometry
J. Chem. Educ. 2016, 93, 4, 738-741
Selenolactams as Synthetic Intermediates for the Synthesis of Polycyclic Amines via Seleno-Claisen Rearrangements
J. Org. Chem. 2018, 83, 6, 3078-3089
High-Density Lipoprotein Nanobiologics for Precision Medicine
Acc. Chem. Res. 2018, 51, 1, 127-137
Regioselective Synthesis of Pyranone-Fused Indazoles via Reductive Cyclization and Alkyne Insertion
ACS Comb. Sci. 2018, 20, 3, 156-163
Isolated Single-Atomic Ru Catalyst Bound on a Layered Double Hydroxide for Hydrogenation of CO2 to Formic Acid
ACS Catal. 2017, 7, 5, 3147-3151
Finding Opportunities from Surprises and Failures. Development of Rhodium-Stabilized Donor/Acceptor Carbenes and Their Application to Catalyst-Controlled C–H Functionalization
J. Org. Chem. 2019, 84, 20, 12722-12745
Iodine, a Mild Reagent for the Aromatization of Terpenoids
J. Nat. Prod. 2016, 79, 4, 831-837
An Expanded Palette of Xenon-129 NMR Biosensors
Acc. Chem. Res. 2016, 49, 10, 2179-2187
Developing a Magnetic Circular Dichroism Apparatus Equipped with Neodymium Magnet for Students To Investigate the Electronic Structures of Transition Metals and Lanthanoids
J. Chem. Educ. 2017, 94, 9, 1357-1362
Crystallographic Structure Analysis of a Ti–Ta Thin Film Materials Library Fabricated by Combinatorial Magnetron Sputtering
ACS Comb. Sci. 2018, 20, 3, 137-150
Pushing the Limits on Metal–Organic Frameworks as a Catalyst Support: NU-1000 Supported Tungsten Catalysts for o-Xylene Isomerization and Disproportionation
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 27, 8535-8543
Beyond Iron: Iridium-Containing P450 Enzymes for Selective Cyclopropanations of Structurally Diverse Alkenes
ACS Cent. Sci. 2017, 3, 4, 302-308
Magnetic Ordering in Gold Nanoclusters
ACS Omega 2017, 2, 6, 2607-2617
Diastereoselective Synthesis of Symmetrical and Unsymmetrical Tetrahydropyridines Catalyzed by Bi(III) Immobilized on Triazine Dendrimer Stabilized Magnetic Nanoparticles
ACS Comb. Sci. 2017, 19, 6, 356-364
Redox-Active vs Redox-Innocent: A Comparison of Uranium Complexes Containing Diamine Ligands
Inorg. Chem. 2018, 57, 11, 6530-6539
Organometallic Neptunium Chemistry
Chem. Rev. 2017, 117, 17, 11460-11475
Hydrophilic Clicked 2,6-Bis-triazolyl-pyridines Endowed with High Actinide Selectivity and Radiochemical Stability: Toward a Closed Nuclear Fuel Cycle
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 23, 7232-7235