Solid-state Li metal batteries (SSLMBs) combine improved safety and high specific energy that can surpass current Li ion batteries. However, the Li+ ion diffusivity in a composite cathode—a combination of active material and solid-state electrolyte (SSE)—is at least an order of magnitude lower than that of the SSE alone because of the highly tortuous ion transport pathways in the cathode. This lowers the realizable capacity and mandates relatively thin (30–300 μm) cathodes, and hence low overall energy storage. Here, a thick (600 μm) hybrid cathode comprising vertically aligned LiNi0.8Mn0.1Co0.1O2 (NMC811)-rich channels filled with a [LiTFSI+PEGMA+MePrPyl TFSI] polymer composite electrolyte is fabricated by an innovative directional freezing and polymerization method. X-ray micro-computed tomography, ion mobility simulations, and DC depolarization show that the cathode structure improves Li+ ion diffusivity in the cathode from 4.4 × 10−9 to 1.4 × 10−7 cm2 s−1. In a SSLMB full cell at 25 oC, the cathode provides gravimetric capacities of 199 and 120 mAh g−1, and ultra-high areal capacities of 16.7 and 10.1 mAh cm−2 at 0.05 and 1 C, respectively. The work demonstrates a scalable approach to realizing composite cathode structures with kinetically favorable ion transport characteristics in SSLMBs.
The adsorption of methanol in HZSM-5 at low temperatures has long been regarded as an associative process involving hydrogen bonding to the acidic zeolite hydroxyl groups. Recent studies employing inelastic neutron scattering spectroscopy (INS) have reported that complete dissociation to methoxylate the zeolite occurs at 298 K, and infrared evidence for a partial dissociation at 298 K has also been described. Here we investigate the apparent contradictions between different techniques, using a combination of INS, infrared spectroscopy and solid-state NMR spectroscopy, including isotopic substitution experiments. Different possible explanations are proposed and considered; we conclude that at room temperature methanol is very largely associatively adsorbed, although the presence of some small extent (>1%) of methoxylation cannot be ruled out.
Rapidly increasing anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, coupled with irreversible climate change and depleting fossil fuel reserves, have significantly increased the drive for CO2 utilisation. Iron sulfide as a catalyst for the hydrogenation of CO2 has been discussed in the literature for decades, especially in an origin-of-life context, but little experimental evidence exists in the literature for its feasibility. Here we report the catalytic properties of pyrrhotite (Fe1−xS) for the hydrogenation of CO2 into formate. Advanced material characterisation methods in combination with computational studies have allowed us to identify surface S–Fe–O moieties as active sites for the reaction.
In fragment-based drug discovery, hundreds or often thousands of compounds smaller than ~300 Da are tested against the protein of interest to identify chemical entities that can be developed into potent drug candidates. Since the compounds are small, interactions are weak, and the screening method must therefore be highly sensitive; moreover, structural information tends to be crucial for elaborating these hits into lead-like compounds. Therefore, protein crystallography has always been a gold-standard technique, yet historically too challenging to find widespread use as a primary screen.
Initial XChem experiments were demonstrated in 2014 and then trialed with academic and industrial collaborators to validate the process. Since then, a large research effort and significant beamtime have streamlined sample preparation, developed a fragment library with rapid follow-up possibilities, automated and improved the capability of I04-1 beamline for unattended data collection, and implemented new tools for data management, analysis and hit identification.
XChem is now a facility for large-scale crystallographic fragment screening, supporting the entire crystals-to-deposition process, and accessible to academic and industrial users worldwide. The peer-reviewed academic user program has been actively developed since 2016, to accommodate projects from as broad a scientific scope as possible, including well-validated as well as exploratory projects. Academic access is allocated through biannual calls for peer-reviewed proposals, and proprietary work is arranged by Diamond’s Industrial Liaison group. This workflow has already been routinely applied to over a hundred targets from diverse therapeutic areas, and effectively identifies weak binders (1%-30% hit rate), which both serve as high-quality starting points for compound design and provide extensive structural information on binding sites. The resilience of the process was demonstrated by continued screening of SARS-CoV-2 targets during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a 3-week turn-around for the main protease.
Lipid liquid–liquid immiscibility and its consequent lateral heterogeneity have been observed under thermodynamic equilibrium in model and native membranes. However, cholesterol-rich membrane domains, sometimes referred to as lipid rafts, are difficult to observe spatiotemporally in live cells. Despite their importance in many biological processes, robust evidence for their existence remains elusive. This is mainly due to the difficulty in simultaneously determining their chemical composition and physicochemical nature, whilst spatiotemporally resolving their nanodomain lifetime and molecular dynamics. In this study, a bespoke method based on super-resolution stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy and raster imaging correlation spectroscopy (RICS) is used to overcome this issue. This methodology, laser interleaved confocal RICS and STED-RICS (LICSR), enables simultaneous tracking of lipid lateral packing and dynamics at the nanoscale. Previous work indicated that, in polarized epithelial cells, the midbody remnant licenses primary cilium formation through an unidentified mechanism. LICSR shows that lipid immiscibility and its adaptive collective nanoscale self-assembly are crucial for the midbody remnant to supply condensed membranes to the centrosome for the biogenesis of the ciliary membrane. Hence, this work poses a breakthrough in the field of lipid biology by providing compelling evidence of a functional role for liquid ordered-like membranes in primary ciliogenesis.
Serial femtosecond crystallography has opened up many new opportunities in structural biology. In recent years, several approaches employing light-inducible systems have emerged to enable time-resolved experiments that reveal protein dynamics at high atomic and temporal resolutions. However, very few enzymes are light-dependent, whereas macromolecules requiring ligand diffusion into an active site are ubiquitous. In this work we present a drop-on-drop sample delivery system that enables the study of enzyme-catalyzed reactions in microcrystal slurries. The system delivers ligand solutions in bursts of multiple picoliter-sized drops on top of a larger crystal-containing drop inducing turbulent mixing and transports the mixture to the X-ray interaction region with temporal resolution. We demonstrate mixing using fluorescent dyes, numerical simulations and time-resolved serial femtosecond crystallography, which show rapid ligand diffusion through microdroplets. The drop-on-drop method has the potential to be widely applicable to serial crystallography studies, particularly of enzyme reactions with small molecule substrates.