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Weak interactions in self-organizations studied by NMR spectroscopy in the supramolecular solid-state

Project description

Structural insight into self-assembly

Self-assembly refers to the phenomenon in which individual units of a material spontaneously come together to form well-organised and structured patterns. Understanding self-assembly at the atomic level is necessary for designing novel materials for drug delivery and other applications. Self-assembled structures typically exhibit soft material properties, lacking crystalline order and displaying limited solubility. Consequently, conventional X-ray crystallography or solution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) often proves inadequate to provide structural information. Funded by the European Research Council, the Weakinteract project aims to develop an NMR spectroscopy method using isotope labeling. The key objective is to elucidate the mechanisms and weak interactions implicated during self-assembly.


Self-assembly is a fundamental process by which individual subunits organize into ordered supramolecular entities, usually through weak interactions. A longstanding goal is to engineer synthetic self-organized structures, often inspired by protein assemblies found in the context of living cells, to design materials of high potentiality, e.g. drug delivery, scaffolding or electronic applications. There is a tremendous interest in physical chemistry to understand the role of weak interactions at the supramolecular interfaces. However, self-organizations usually form soft material, lacking crystalline order and at the same time exhibiting poor solubility. As a consequence, standard techniques for structural investigation such as X-ray crystallography or solution NMR usually fail or deliver only partial information, preventing an atomic-level understanding and therefore the design of new architectures.
The Weakinteract project aims at developing NMR spectroscopy in the relevant supramolecular solid-state for those non-crystalline and insoluble self-organizations. Weakinteract will exploit strategic isotope labeling, state-of-the-art solid-state NMR methods and integration of hybrid approaches to elucidate the assembly mechanisms, revealing the weak interactions at the supramolecular interfaces. The project comprises three different aspects of growing complexity: (1) Elaboration of a proof-of-concept for atomic resolution structure determination of self-assembled nanotubes in hydrogel form. (2) Determination of the structural basis for bacterial filaments (3) Investigation of the phenomenon of heterogeneous supramolecular templating, in the context of amyloid fold initiation. One major aim of Weakinteract is to provide a robust approach dedicated to chemists, biophysicists and structural biologists in order to tackle weak interactions in the relevant assembled state, ultimately delivering atomic level structures and an understanding of the assembly process.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 472 425,00
75794 Paris

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 1 472 425,00

Beneficiaries (1)