Water is essential for life on our planet and is the solvent of choice for Nature to carry out her syntheses. In contrast, our methods of making complex organic molecules have taken us far away from the watery milieu of biosynthesis. Indeed, it is fair to say that most organic reactions commonly used both in academic laboratories and in industry fail in the presence of water or oxygen. At the same time of course, chemical reactors are very different from the cellular environment where Nature s synthesis is carried out. This research proposal aims to incorporate some of the key characteristic of cellular reactors, i.e. confinement, compartmentalization and interfaces, into model droplet-based reactors. The envisioned reactors will comprise of monodisperse aqueous droplets in oil carrier phases with volumes ranging from pL to nL, produced in microfluidics devices or in tubing, in very large numbers. These droplets will have precisely determined interfacial areas, which can be used for the study of so-called on water reactions, a new area of synthetic chemistry rapidly gaining in interest. Furthermore, the interfaces can be functionalized with catalytically active surfactants and by confining the droplets into ever decreasing volumes, the effect of nanoconfinement on enzymatic and other reactions can be studied. Finally, individual droplets provide a completely compartmentalized environment, suitable for the study of single enzymes in a crowded environment, but also for systematic studies into communication between compartmentalized, mutually incompatible, reaction systems. This proposal presents a radically new approach to increasing our understanding of chemical reactions in confined spaces and at interfaces and provides a technological platform for the creation of chemically linked networks with emerging complexity.
Field of science
- /natural sciences/chemical sciences/organic chemistry/organic reactions
- /natural sciences/biological sciences/biochemistry/biomolecules/proteins/enzymes
Call for proposal
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