The Top 10 Publications of 2023!
08 Jan 2024
- Orla Fernie



Let's look back at some of the most popular ISIS research to celebrate another year of exciting research.


These papers are ranked by Altmetric score. This considers social media, mainstream media coverage, citations, discussion in blogs and other activities that make an impact on the public's understanding of science and gives the article a numerical score. The score is generated by not simply measuring the articles citations but also including modern methods to calculate the true impact of the paper on the public’s understanding of science. 

cropped Luke OFFSPEC.jpgOur most viewed paper, with a whopping score of 1396 was this paper on the role of Bax proteins in apoptosis. Apoptosis (programmed cell death) Is regulated by the Bcl-2 protein family. Bax (one of the Bcl-2 proteins) triggers cell death by perforating mitochondrial outer membrane- but how does it make these pores? This paper showed the significant role of lipids in Bax pore formation and the initial phases of apoptosis. ​Read our science highlight​ to learn more.


2- Control of the pore chemistry in metal-organic frameworks for efficient adsorption of benzene and separation of benzene/cyclohexane 

Air pollutant benzene is a volatile organic compound (VOC) which poses a threat to human health. In the petrochemical industry, the separation of benzene and cyclohexane is important for production of high-purity cyclohexane, but this is extremely difficult due to the small difference of 0.6C in their boiling points. This paper showed that control of pore chemistry can aid selective adsorption of benzene at low pressure or in the presence of cyclohexane and water. 

3- Co-assembling living material as an in vitro lung epithelial infection model  

Biofilms are natural living communities of microbial cells. This study grew 3D biofilms of Gram-negative, Gram-positive and fungal bacteria to build an infected lung epithelial model that replicates the environment of cystic fibrosis patients with a bacterial infection. The model was used to study the impact of the antibiotic ciproflaxin on bacterial sputum (a mucus produced by the lungs). 

The amyloid protein α-synuclein (αSyn) is associated with Parkinson's disease. The solvation shell of the protein is important for protein function, in areas such as catalysis and interactions with other proteins, or DNA. Its contribution to protein misfolding and aggregation, however, is not known. This paper showed that mobility of H2O molecules in the solvation shell influences the aggregation rate of αSyn. ​Read the science highlight​.

In the magnet Ni2Mo3O8, Ni2+ ions form a bipartite honeycomb lattice comprised of two triangular lattices, with ions subject to the tetrahedral and octahedral crystalline environment. Neutron scattering showed CEF excitations in both types of ions have nonmagnetic singlet ground states, yet the material as magnetic order, and, the CEF spin excitons from the tetrahedral sites form a dispersive diffusive pattern around the Brillouin zone boundary, likely due to spin entanglement and geometric frustrations. 

5- Understanding the Degradation of Methylenediammonium and Its Role in Phase-Stabilizing Formamidinium Lead Triiodide 

FAPbI3 is a promising material for photovoltaics. To enhance its stability, MDACl2 has been used as an additive. However, the precise function and role of MDA2+ remain uncertain. This paper revealed that MDA2+ is not the direct cause of the enhanced material stability. Instead, products of MDA2+ degradation and subsequent reactions are responsible for the improved α-phase stability. 

6- Meltable, Glass-Forming, Iron Zeolitic Imidazolate Frameworks 

In this study, the first meltable iron-based zeolitic imidazolate framework (ZIF), known as MUV-24 has been synthesized and characterised. This material is obtained from the thermal treatment of [Fe3(im)6(Him)2]. The team observed different crystalline phase transformations upon heating, until the material melts at 482 °C 

Innes_EMU.jpg7- Direct Observation of Dynamic Lithium Diffusion Behavior in Nickel- Rich, LiNi0.8Mn0.1Co0.1O2 (NMC811) Cathodes Using Operando Muon Spectroscopy 

Ni-rich layered oxide cathode materials such as LiNi0.8Mn0.1Co0.1O2 (NMC811) will play an important part in the next-generation of cathodes for lithium-ion batteries. Unfortunately, NMC811 suffers capacity loss in its first cycle. This study increased understanding of the origin of this loss which will be vital to the design of future materials.  See the science highlight on this paper for more information.

Compressibility is a fundamental property of all materials; yet liquids are almost incompressible. Increasing and controlling the compressibility of liquids could be applied to new applications in hydraulics and shock absorption. This study demonstrated that porous liquids (which have empty pores withing the liquid molecules) have much greater compressibilities than any normal liquids like water.  

Cosmetic treatments like bleaching usually interact with the hair at the molecular level, inducing changes in its components and modifying the physicochemical and mechanical properties of the fibers. Here, the effect of acid straightening on the morphology and ultrastructure of Caucasian hair was investigated, evidencing that the procedures cause changes in the hair fibre cortex. 

Worm slime.jpg9- The Internal Structure of the Velvet Worm Projectile Slime: A Small‐Angle Scattering Study As a means of prey capture and defence, velvet worms eject an adhesive slime. This liquid is like a glue, rapidly transitioning into solid fibers. This team studied the nanostructural organization of the slime using small-angle scattering with neutrons and X-rays. By comparing scattering data of slime re-hydrated with light and heavy water after drying, this paper revealed that most lipids in slime are contained in the nanoglobules with homogeneous distribution Read the highlight. 

10- Strain control of a bandwidth-driven spin reorientation in Ca3Ru2O7 

Strain tuning can be used to investigate quantum materials. In this paper, the technique is combined with neutron and x-ray scattering, allowing the structural and magnetic response of the materials to be measured simultaneously. Focusing on the material Ca3Ru2O7, which displays a complex phase transition at low temperature where all the spins simultaneously rotate by 90°, the team found that they could trigger this spin reorientation just by straining the material, revealing the central role of the lattice. 


Contact: Fernie, Orla (STFC,RAL,ISIS)