Switched-On Nickel

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Science  05 Jan 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5501, pp. 56-57
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5501.56

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The separation of mixtures of chemical compounds is often a laborious task, especially on an industrial scale. In his Perspective, Crabtree highlights a new concept introduced by Wang and Stiefel for the separation of olefins from refinery mixtures. The authors have discovered an electrochemical switch that can selectively separate olefins and is not prone to poisoning by common impurities. The key to the discovery lies in using an unusual complex that is derived more from biological concepts than from the complexes commonly used for olefin binding.