ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: January 05, 2022

The 2021 year in chemistry 

“C&EN’s Year in Chemistry 2021”
Chemical & Engineering News

As researchers returned to their labs and at least some sense of normalcy in the wake of the pandemic, 2021 was a productive year for chemistry. A cover story in Chemical & Engineering News, an independent news outlet of the American Chemical Society, highlights the year’s top trends, delightful discoveries, forecasts for 2022 and more.

Many cool new compounds were reported in 2021, according to Senior Correspondent Celia Henry Arnaud, including the C&EN reader-voted molecule of the year, infinitene. This compound consists of 12 fused benzene rings that loop around like an infinity symbol. Other quirky discoveries that caught the attention of C&EN’s editors included pain-causing proteins identified in spitting snakes’ venom, bite-sized protein structures that students can “feel” with their lips and tongue, and uniformly distributed zinc atoms that make ants’ teeth razor sharp. Meanwhile, plastics recycling rocketed forward, with new developments in breaking down the polymers and reusing their constituents. And molecular editing — reactions that selectively insert, delete or swap an atom in a complex molecule — promised to open new doors for medicinal chemists and others.

Scientists continued to learn about COVID-19, revealing earlier missteps. For example, errors in the structures of the coronavirus’s proteins were spotted and corrected. Also, hopes for repurposed drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine, faded as they failed to provide convincing clinical results. Looking ahead to 2022, experts predict the next big chemistry trends will include photocatalytic conversion of carbon dioxide to useful chemicals, commercialization of and new applications for perovskite photovoltaics and an increased sense of community and inclusivity in chemistry


The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS’ mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and all its people. The Society is a global leader in promoting excellence in science education and providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a leader in scientific information solutions, its CAS division partners with global innovators to accelerate breakthroughs by curating, connecting and analyzing the world’s scientific knowledge. ACS’ main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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