Recent developments in the area of large molecular systems have convincingly demonstrated that synthetic chemistry is now in a position to jump the gap between ingeniously-designed model compounds and custom-designed practically useful materials. At the same time it is becoming progressively clear that novel practical or technological applications will only come within reach if these impressive synthetic strides are matched with a host of measurement techniques and characterisation experiments.
In this context it seems natural to us to propose that an equal combination of selected synthetic chemists, physical and chemical experimentalists, and theoreticians, who - in different ways - have been devoting their research efforts to the study of large and complicated molecules, should form the constituency of the next meeting of the ESF Research Conference series "Chemistry and Physics of Multifunctional Materials". The first highly successful meeting was held in Sept 97 under the title "Fullerenes in context", followed by "Taming Molecular Complexity" in Sept '99 and "Chemical Building Blocks for New Materials" in Sept '01. In "From Clever Molecules to Smart Materials" we propose to explore the idea that if materials scientists are to develop organic materials that match or exceed the performance of the known and prospective in organics, it will be necessary to make a systematic, coordinated effort across discipline boundaries.
This requires scientists to assemble, characterize, measure, and model a whole range of variously derivatised systems according to a strategy that can only emerge if interactions between synthetic chemists, spectroscopists, theoreticians, materials scientists and industrial strategic researchers are enhanced. Targeted conferences such as the presently proposed one can catalyse this process of building and strengthening connections between adjacent fields.