Research

The mission of the research programme in the Feringa group is to exploit the full potential of synthetic chemistry to create new structures, functions and chemical systems. Inspired by Nature's principles of molecular recognition, assembly, catalysis, transport and motion, the goal is to design novel functional (supra-) molecular materials as well as to develop new catalysts and synthetic methodology.

Four major areas of interest can be distinguished:

  • Molecular nanoscience: the control of dynamics including switches, translational and rotary molecular motors, self-assembly and multifunctional nanosystems, as well as the development of responsive materials and surfaces.
  • Synthesis and catalysis: the development of asymmetric catalysis, catalytic oxidation and coupling reactions and application of novel catalytic methods in synthesis.
  • Biohybrid systems: the design of responsive biohybrid materials, artificial membranes, photopharmacology and methodology for biomolecular imaging.
  • Sustainable chemistry: new sustainable synthetic methodology and building blocks. Specifically, development of bio-based coatings and photocatalytic hydrogen production. Collaborations with AkzoNobel, Nouryon, Shell and BASF in the ARC CBBC framework.

Chirality is a leading theme and over the years a broad expertise in fundamental aspects of chirality has been built including new asymmetric synthesis methodology, chiroptical phenomena, chiral amplification, and dynamic and supramolecular chirality. The research in the group has a strong multidisciplinary character.

Research programs

Subprogram 1: Molecular Nanoscience 

Molecular motors: how to control motion by exploring synthetic molecular motors. Light-driven rotary motors and catalytic motors are studied. The focus is on autonomous motion, the quest to make motors to perform work and the development of ultrafast and/or red-shifted motors.

Molecular organization: how to control and reversibly change assembly and organization at different hierarchical levels, in supramolecular materials and self-assembled monolayers on surfaces. Particular emphasis is on liquid crystal materials, low molecular weight gels and nanotube formation.

Molecular systems: how to integrate various functions in dynamic complex molecular systems. A key challenge is the design of chemical systems out of thermodynamic equilibrium i.e. kinetically driven multifunctional systems.

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Subprogram 3: Biohybrid Systems 

Protein function: light-controlled switchable protein channels and enzyme activity

Photopharmacology: photoresponsive drugs and interference with biological pathways

Biomedical imaging: design of novel tracer methodology

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Subprogram 2: Synthesis and catalysis 

Novel catalytic methodology: current focus is on cross coupling with organolithium reagents.

Origin of homochirality: focus is on asymmetric autocatalysis and chiral self-replication.

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Subprogram 4: Sustainable Chemistry 

Flow and photochemistry: developing innovative methodology according to the principles of green chemistry, to replace current energy inefficient and wasteful synthetic routes

Sustainable building blocks: how to create coatings derived from renewable sources, with properties equalling or surpassing current industry standard

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