Skip to main content

Morphogenesis of photo-mechanized molecular materials

Objective

The sophistication reached by organic chemistry has enabled the design and synthesis of a wide range of dynamic molecules that display controlled shape changes with an ever-increasing refinement. However, amplifying these molecular-scale dynamics to support shape-transformation in a broad range of macroscopic functions remains a key challenge.

To address this challenge, I draw inspiration from living materials where molecular machines maintain out of equilibrium states by ingenious coupling with their anisotropic supramolecular environment, and ultimately promote the appearance of emergent properties on higher levels of organization.

The aim of Morpheus is to develop shape-shifting materials and shape-generating photochemical systems by amplifying the motion of molecular machines over increasing length scales, towards the emergence of cohesive shape transformation in artificial tissue-like materials.

We will (i) develop motorized materials by coupling light-driven molecular motors to liquid crystals and pre-program photoreaction-diffusion processes to achieve continuous motion; (ii) combine microfluidics with the anisotropic response of liquid crystal elastomers to create a library of shape-shifting bubbles and shells that undergo pre-programmed shape modification under irradiation with light; (iii) promote adhesion between units of mechanized matter, while preserving their original shape-shifting and shape-generating properties; and (iv) assemble tissue-like morphing materials from large cohesive networks of shape-shifting micro-spheres.

This project will lay the scientific foundation for a new and multidisciplinary approach towards shape-generating molecular materials. It will yield unprecedented examples of emergent dynamics, provide simple models to untangle the underpinnings of mechanical transduction in nature, and contribute to developing new paradigms for the design of active matter.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/chemical sciences/organic chemistry
  • /engineering and technology/materials engineering/crystals
  • /engineering and technology/materials engineering/liquid crystal

Call for proposal

ERC-2017-COG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-COG - Consolidator Grant

Host institution

RIJKSUNIVERSITEIT GRONINGEN
Address
Broerstraat 5
9712CP Groningen
Netherlands
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 425 657,44

Beneficiaries (2)

RIJKSUNIVERSITEIT GRONINGEN
Netherlands
EU contribution
€ 1 425 657,44
Address
Broerstraat 5
9712CP Groningen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
UNIVERSITEIT TWENTE

Participation ended

Netherlands
EU contribution
€ 574 342,56
Address
Drienerlolaan 5
7522 NB Enschede
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments