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Multi-Stimuli Responsive Molecular Systems and Materials

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ResMoSys (Multi-Stimuli Responsive Molecular Systems and Materials)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-12-31

Nanotechnology has been identified as a key enabling technology for economic progress. The ResMoSys ITN did increase innovation capacity and strengthen doctoral training in nanotechnology on a European level by uniting leading experts from both the academic and non-academic sectors under the theme “Multi-Stimuli Responsive Molecular Systems and Materials”. The objective of the research programme was to prepare new “smart” molecular systems and materials in a 'bottom-up' approach from low molecular weight building blocks, by exploiting dynamic covalent chemistry and supramolecular interactions. Close collaboration between the academic and industrial members in this ITN ensured the immediate commercial application of new technologies and materials developed by the network. Ten early-stage researchers (ESRs) were recruited and trained, equipping them with a balance of research-related and transferable skills, enhancing their career perspectives in both the academic and non-academic sectors. Thus, the network has produced highly skilled, creative, innovative and entrepreneurial researchers who will contribute to European innovation capacity in nanotechnology.
Towards new smart molecular systems, the fellows have been working on their own individual research projects. The main results and future objectives are summarized below (numbers are assigned randomly and do not reflect specific members of this ITN):
• ESR1 has been working on the preparation and mechanistic study of the formation of new chiral metal organic frameworks (MOFs) with symmetry breaking on macro and micro-scale for possible applications in chiral separation.
• ESR2 has been working on the synthesis of hydrogels based on self-assembled peptide fibers with the aim of developing them as a cell-culture platform.
• ESR3 has been working in the development of supramolecular dynamic architectures based on helical aromatic oligoquinolines.
• ESR4 successfully synthesized a variety of cyclopeptide-derived coordination cages and investigated their structural and guest-binding properties.
• ESR5 has been working on responsive multifunctional nanocarriers based on lipid coated mesoporous silica nano-particles (NPs) that would selectively target pathogenic bacteria through bacterial iron uptake.
• ESR6 has been working on the formation of differently charged supramolecular host-guest complex Coaceravate Core Micelles (C3Ms). The stimuli responsive micellar assembly and disassembly might be used to encapsulate and trigger release of drug molecules.
• ESR7 ESR7 initially targeted the application of prismatic coordination cages as ion channels. Further to this, ESR7 developed bioconjugated tetrahedral capsules for the targeted cellular delivery of cargo and for the formation of biomaterials.
• ESR8 has been working on the synthesis, characterization and clinical evaluation of biocompatible stimuli-responsive (light, pH, redox) injectable hydrogels. Some of the hydrogels are also under testing with medical doctors for applications in minimally-invasive surgery.
• ESR9 has been working towards developing stimuli responsive polymer materials based on dynamic covalent iminoboronates as well as self-assembling molecular cages, based primarily on bimetallic coordination motifs. These cages hold promise as capsules for anionic guest molecules and biologically relevant species.
• ESR10 has worked on two different techniques (dynamic combinatorial chemistry and combinatorial chemistry) oriented to the identification of specific receptors for FVIIa, a drug designed by Novo Nordisk.
• ESR 12 has been working on dynamic assembly systems using helical aromatic foldamers formed through covalent disulfide bonds. Water-soluble foldamers were synthesized and linear polyamide foldamers with handedness communication were produced in water and allow for dynamic exchange.

ESRs have undergone secondments to partner organisations and gained valuable industrial experience thereby. General academic training and training in experimental and analytical methods necessary for the respective ESRs’ research project was provided by the ESRs’ local host institutions. The ESRs also developed scientific communication skills through presenting their research verbally at network events, preparing regular progress reports, and, in some cases, writing scientific publications (6 of the 12 ESRs have written at least one publication.).
Furthermore, the ResMoSys ITN has organised four workshops and a summer school in Strasbourg, Wageningen, Cambridge, Copenhagen, and Stockholm, with scientific and transferrable skills based training provided. Those workshops were always co-organized by the respective local ESRs which provided them with valuable transferable skills.
The fellows have all developed personal career development plans, which they reviewed each year in close collaboration with their respective supervisors.

The ResMoSys website ( provides general information about the ITN including on the goals of the project and on the individual network members for members of the scientific community, industry and the general public.
The ESRs have launched and maintain a public Facebook group ( via which they post photos and updates on network activities, and publicise their outreach activities for the general public. At the workshop in Strasbourg, each ESR recorded a short video of themselves describing their research for a general audience and talking about their career path to date and their aspirations for the future. These videos have been made available to the public through the Facebook group. In Cambridge, a careers workshop and keynote lectures by international renowned speakers were open to the whole department, especially undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdocs. In Copenhagen, the ESRs launched a live question and answer session via Facebook.
A wide variety of new nanostructures and materials have been developed in the course of this ITN. This work is of great academic interest, and 9 research papers have been published in high impact journals, disseminating results to the scientific community. It is hoped that these nanostructures may be applied across a diverse range of fields, including chemical separation science, cell culture, drug delivery, antibiotic development, pharmaceutical development, optical materials and sensors. This could have great socio-economic impact in fields as diverse as microfluidic systems, materials science (battery and display technologies), medicinal diagnostics and therapeutics.