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Helicoid molecular devices for coupled motion

Project description

Axial chirality opens the door to novel molecular motors and remotely controlled switches

Molecular motors abound in nature. These tiny machines transform chemical energy into mechanical work, inspiring scientists to do the same. Chiral molecules that display helicity are excellent candidates for the implementation of molecular motors. Helicity is the chirality of a helical or screw-shaped molecule around its axis. Spinning these atoms can provide the basis for molecular motors and switches. With the support of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the aim is to introduce an axially chiral fragment to an alkene scaffold. This will simultaneously simplify control of the rotational direction of molecular motors while lowering the helicity inversion barrier, paving the road to remotely controlled, photoinduced helicity inversion.


The project HeliCoM (Helicoid molecular devices for coupled motion) is a 24-month postdoctoral research project to be conducted within Prof. B. Feringa’s group at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (Netherlands). This ambitious research aims at developing new molecular motors and switches based on an overcrowded alkene scaffold appended with an helical dibenzo[c,g]fluorene moiety. The chiral information resulting from the introduction of this axially chiral fragment will allow to control the rotational direction of molecular motors without the need of a stereogenic carbon. Oppositely by embedding such scaffold in a molecular switch design and lowering the helicity inversion barrier, we aim at inverting the helicity of the dibenzo[c,g]fluorene through a photoinduced coupled motion of both halves of the overcrowded alkene resulting in a remote control of the helicity. Achieving these goals will require to finely tune the racemization barrier of the dibenzofluorene core in order to produce the desired stimuli responsive compounds. All these objectives aim towards improving the level of function of molecular devices with a potential important scientific impact with numerous applications of the developed methodologies through transdisciplinary collaborations. Preliminary DFT modelling have been performed in order to assess the feasibility of this project and refine the design of the synthetic targets presented herein. The conduction of this project will drastically enhance the employability of the Researcher thanks to the development of new skills (scientific, technical and transversal) and give him the opportunity to perform high-impact research in a renowned group. The Researcher will be directly supervised by Prof. B. Feringa, who is the inventor of synthetic molecular motors and greatly contributed to the field of molecular switches. His experience, completed by the expertise of other members of his group will allow for the straightforward achievement of this project.


Net EU contribution
€ 187 624,32
Broerstraat 5
9712CP Groningen

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Noord-Nederland Groningen Overig Groningen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
No data