Most-cited chemistry papers published a decade ago
C&EN and CAS look back at high-impact research from 2006
Title: Graphene-based composite materials
Reference: Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature04969
Number of citations: 6,196
Senior authors: SonBinh T. Nguyen and Rodney S. Ruoff
Affiliation in 2006: Northwestern University
Description of work: Ruoff had predicted that graphene sheets, or flakes, could be used as “filler” in electrically conducting polymer composites. The problem was that these flakes only dispersed in water-based solutions, making their incorporation into organic polymers difficult. So, along with Nguyen and coworkers, Ruoff reported in 2006 a method to chemically modify flakes of graphene oxide and disperse them in polymers such as polystyrene.
Impact of work: “I think the paper has been highly cited because others have learned that dispersing graphene into various matrix materials has led to a range of composites with interesting properties,” says Ruoff, who is currently at Ulsan National Institute of Science & Technology. “For example, there are now commercial products such as polymer fibers with small percentages of graphene flake mixed in that have significantly improved mechanical properties.”
Title: Induction of pluripotent stem cells from mouse embryonic and adult fibroblast cultures by defined factors
Reference: Cell, DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2006.07.024
Number of citations: 7,384
Senior authors: Kazutoshi Takahashi and Shinya Yamanaka
Affiliation: Kyoto University
Description of work: Up until 2006, scientists studying human development and regenerative medicine could source pluripotent stem cells only from embryos—an ethical dilemma for many. That year, Yamanaka and Takahashi changed everything: They reported a method to convert human skin cells into stem cells capable of transforming into any type of cell in the body. These “induced pluripotent stem cells” (iPSs), created by activating just four genes, earned Yamanaka the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Impact of work: A citation on nobleprize.org states that “Yamanaka’s discovery has opened up a completely new research field, and the astonishingly simple iPS technology is now used in a large number of laboratories around the world.”
Title: Semiempirical GGA-type density functional constructed with a long-range dispersion correction
Reference: J. Comp. Chem., DOI: 10.1002/jcc.20495
Number of citations: 7,480
Senior author: Stefan Grimme
Affiliation in 2006: University of Münster
Description of work: Computational chemists use density functional theory (DFT) to calculate the electronic structure of multiatom systems. In 2006, this method didn’t work well for large molecules and condensed matter such as organic solids and liquids. In this paper, Grimme reported a fix for the problem: He developed a correction that could describe long-range dispersion interactions such as van der Waals forces between atoms. It enabled, among other things, DFT to more accurately simulate water and crystalline forms of drugs.
Impact of work: It wasn’t a particularly clever idea, but it was the first paper to make the correction in a “generally useable way,” says Grimme, who is now at the University of Bonn. “The other reason it’s so heavily cited is that widely used quantum chemistry software packages implemented this functional in their code rather early on.”
Source: To count citations, CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society, performed a search of its CAplus database using its STN search tool in mid-December 2016.