Who we are and what we are interested in?
Start-up group: Dynamic systems chemistry for adaptive organic materials (since January 2021)
Molecules are constantly moving and interacting with other molecules and their environment. If these interactions involve bond formation and its breakage, sharing reactants/products, a whole reaction network is created. The boundaries between the phases are an important phenomenon, e.g. for membranes, for heterogeneous catalyst, for living cells. While reaction networks deal with covalent bonding between atoms, an interface is responsible for surface adsorption and self-assembly of whole molecular systems. We aim to investigate complex reaction networks coupling covalent and non-covalent interactions at surfaces and phase interfaces as a tremendously exciting direction of research.
Who we are looking for?
We are looking for motivated students who endorse organic synthesis as a steppingstone to discover functionality of molecular assemblies that goes beyond the state-of-the-art.
Our there research axes are:
1. Dynamic reaction networks
Synthesis of individual components of a library that upon mixing form all possible combinations. All reactions, however, are coupled by sharing their reactants/product thus forming a reaction network. Each particular product features distinct properties that can be addressed by external stimuli, making it adaptive. And adaptation is the key prerequisite for evolution.
2. Self-assembly at surfaces and interfaces
Introducing a phase interface, e.g. a solid surface, inherently imposes a bias on the system. Due to differences in surface adsorption enthalpies among the species present, the composition of the layer adsorbed on the surface will be complementary to that in the other phase. A phase interface represents a significant energy step for physisorbing molecules comparable to the activation energy of a reversible bond formation/exchange barrier. We aim to understand how the surface instruct self-organization of species in its proximity.
3. Directed evolution of artificial systems
Having reaction networks and self-assembly at surfaces, we can step beyond: if molecules can assemble to produce a requested function, a reaction network could be instructed in the same way to provide products which ultimately deliver the function. In this way, materials with the requested function can be formed and assembled from a complex "soup" of molecules by the simple request for the function - whatever it may be...