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Supramolecular machineries with life-like mechanical functions

Supramolecular machineries with life-like mechanical functions

Objective

Artificial molecular motors and switches have the potential to become a core part of nanotechnology. However, a wide gap in length scales still remains unaccounted for, between the operation of these molecules in solution, where their individual mechanical action is randomly dispersed in the Brownian storm, and on the other hand their action at the macroscopic level, e.g. in polymer networks and crystals.

This proposal is about bridging this gap, by developing chemo-mechanical transduction strategies that will allow dynamic molecules to perform a range of unprecedented tasks, e.g. by generating strong directional forces at the nanoscale, and through shape-shifting microscopic formations.

This project aims to harness the mechanically-purposeful motion of dynamic molecules as to generate measurable forces from the nanoscale, and ultimately establish operational principles for chemo-mechanical transduction in supramolecular systems.

In my wholly synthetic approach, I draw inspiration from the operational principles of microtubules. I will incorporate molecular photo-switches into supramolecular tubes, and enable the controlled growth and disassembly of the tubes by using light as the energy input. Thus, I will: (i) Synthesize stiff supramolecular tubes that grow actively under continuous illumination, and disassemble with a power stroke as soon as illumination stops; (ii) Measure, and harvest the forces generated by the tubes to manipulate individual nanoparticles with a sense of directionality; and (iii) Encapsulate the tubes into water droplets and vesicles, to yield shape-shifting, and eventually rudimentary splitting models for cells.

This project reaches beyond the state of the art in adaptive molecular nano-systems, by pioneering strategies to engineer and harness strain in supramolecular assemblies. It thus lays the foundations for machineries that are capable of manipulating matter at length scales that are also those at which the cytoskeleton operates.
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Host institution

UNIVERSITEIT TWENTE

Address

Drienerlolaan 5
7522 Nb Enschede

Netherlands

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 2 000 000

Beneficiaries (1)

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UNIVERSITEIT TWENTE

Netherlands

EU Contribution

€ 2 000 000

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 819075

Status

Ongoing project

  • Start date

    1 March 2019

  • End date

    29 February 2024

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.1.

  • Overall budget:

    € 2 000 000

  • EU contribution

    € 2 000 000

Hosted by:

UNIVERSITEIT TWENTE

Netherlands