Three NWO grants for fundamental chemical research

17 December 2018

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded three ECHO grants to UvA researchers working at the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS), the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS), and the Institute of Physics (IOP). Their projects concern fundamental chemical research into signalling molecules, molecular fluorescence, and organic chemistry.

ECHO grants are awarded to excellent researchers in the field of chemistry, offering them the opportunity to develop creative, risky ideas that can be the seed for research themes of the future. On average an ECHO project is awarded with 260.000 euro. In 2018 a total of 16 projects were selected out of 102 applications.

Signalling molecules

Professors Harro Bouwmeester (SILS) and Peter Schoenmakers (HIMS) will develop new strategies for the chemical analysis of important biological signalling molecules, strigolactones, in plants. Strigolactones stimulate germination of parasitic plants (negative!) and activate symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi (positive!). The goal of this research is to develop analytical-chemical methods to selectively extract, purify and analyse strigolactones from plants and root exudates in order to obtain a better understanding of the importance of these compounds for plants.

Molecular fluorescence

Professors Fred Brouwer (HIMS) and Daniel Bonn (IOP) are developing molecular fluorescence methods for the visualization of mechanical contact, friction and lubrication. Friction between two objects originates at small surface irregularities where the objects touch. Using fluorescent molecular materials, the method is able to visualize the contact area rapidly and with high resolution while the objects move. This provides unique insight in friction, lubrication and wearing at the microscopic scale. Fred Brouwer leads the research into the fluorescence characteristics of the molecular materials that respond to mechanical contact. Daniel Bonn and his staff link this fluorescence imaging to tribology using a rheometer where controlled forces are exerted and frictional movements induced while simultaneously recording the fluorescence signals.

Organic chemistry

Associate Professor Tati Fernández-Ibáñez (HIMS) will develop an efficient catalytic method for the Fujiwara-Moritani reaction, which is a greener alternative to the well-known Heck reaction. During this project, a very reactive catalyst based on Pd/S,O-ligand will be used to circumvent the current limitations of the Fujiwara-Moritani reaction. The new catalytic system will be applied in the (asymmetric) inter-and intramolecular Fujiwara-Moritani reaction of non-prefunctionalized (herero)arenes.

Published by  HIMS