Research objectives and content
Taking inspiration from nature, one target in supramolecular chemistry is the synthesis of receptors able to recognize guest molecules. The purpose of this project is to prepare molecular receptors by the use of reversible non-covalent assembly. The self-assembly of these molecular boxes will be realized by means of hydrogen bond interactions (72 intermolecular H-bonds) using the double rosette motif. Calix(4)arenes will be used as molecular platforms for the positioning of H-bond donating and accepting groups. Calix(4)arenes also offer ample possibilities for varying the size and shape of the nano-sized cavity, and functional groups on the concave inside. This enables fine-tuning of the binding properties of these receptor molecules for virtually any desired substrate. The project will include: (i) the synthesis of the molecular building blocks, (ii) the assembly studies, (iii) the inclusion studies, and (iv) the preparation of libraries of receptors by mixing building blocks bearing different functional groups.
The assembly of these molecular boxes will provide important information about non-covalent interactions. These forces are crucial in determining the structure and function of biological systems. The libraries of fine-tuned self-assembled receptors will model antibody recognition properties. Furthermore, this class of receptors could be used as enzyme mimics for the catalysis of specific chemical transformations.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
With this training I expect to gain a broad expertise in supramolecular chemistry, in particular molecular recognition, hydrogen bond interactions and calixarene chemistry. This should complement my knowledge in covalent chemistry and metal coordination, as applied to supramolecular systems. In addition I will acquire experience in the use of new scientific techniques. The scientific results obtained will be published in international journals. After this training I would like to return to Italy and apply my acquired expertise either in academia (some Italian universities have on-going projects in the field of supramolecular chemistry, and in particular on calixarenes) or in pharmaceutical industry. During the training time I plan on learning the Dutch language.
Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)