CORDIS - EU research results

Enzymatic approach to Chiral multifunctional materials for advanced applications

Final Activity Report Summary - EnzyMat (Enzymatic Approach to Chiral Multifunctional Materials for Advanced Applications)

Enzymes are found throughout nature and their role is to facilitate the production of the vast array of different compounds that are found in the world around us. Enzymes are already used throughout the pharmaceutical industry, where their incredibly high chemo-selectivity, region-selectivity and stereoselectivity have been exploited in the controlled synthesis of drugs. However, it is only recently that the use of enzymes in materials’ science has started to be explored and their unique abilities, i.e. their high selectivity, remain yet to be fully exploited in this area.

The general aim of this work was to use enzymes to make and modify polymers. More specifically, it was to exploit the high selectivity that enzymes could possess to create polymers with unique properties that could not be easily made using conventional methods.

During the course of this research we exploited one of the most powerful and useful characteristics of enzymes, their chiral selectivity. We used this to create materials which produced a response to the presence of a specific enzyme, i.e. to produce enzyme responsive materials. The magnitude of this response was pre-programmed into the material by tailoring its chiral makeup. This programming was similar to the binary code that is ubiquitous in information technology. The material then responded to the presence of a specific enzyme, and chemical, by changing its physical properties, in this case the temperature at which the material softened upon heating.

In addition to this, many other uses of enzymes in the field of material science were demonstrated, both internally within the DSM institute and by establishing strong collaborations with other research institutes throughout the world. The results of this work were publicised throughout the community by means of publications in renowned journals and various presentations at international conferences, greatly expanding on the current knowledge on the use of enzymes within the field of material science.