First Dutch success in European chemistry network

Two Dutch chemists have received a research subsidy from ERA-Chemistry. ERA-Chemistry is a network of scientific organisations from 10 European countries and its first priority was to grant research proposals. The Research Council for the Chemical Sciences (CW) of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) represents the Netherlands in the network.

A total of 82 preproposals in the area of supramolecular chemistry were submitted and 35 applicants were invited to submit a full proposal. A committee of 15 prominent scientists performed the scientific assessment of all proposals. ERA-Chemistry granted the 9 first-ranked proposals. The successful applicants include two Dutch chemists, Gerard Roelfes and Jan van Esch, both at the University of Groningen. With this subsidy both Roelfes and van Esch can set up a European joint project.

ERA-Chemistry is a cooperative venture between national science organisations from Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland aimed at developing a European subsidy instrument for the chemical sciences. The network was realised in 2004 with the help of a network subsidy for the Sixth Framework Programme of the European Commission.

The wishes of researchers were emphatically taken into consideration during the design of the call for proposals. As a result of this a unique and easily accessible procedure was realised that was completed within a record time of seven months. The experience gained will be used to develop and organise more and improved research subsidies. This will bring the ambitions for the formation of a European Research Area (ERA) for chemistry one step closer.

The two research projects with Dutch input are:

DNA polymer as a basis for catalytic nanostructures
Dr J.G. (Gerard) Roelfes (University of Groningen) in cooperation with A. Hermann (Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Mainz, Germany)

Polymers which consist of DNA with, for example, polyethylene oxide form dipolar structures. These so-called DNA micelles are used for nanostructures with a catalytic effect. Applications are foreseen in the area of asymmetric catalysis, programmable cascade reactions, and novel local drug administration.

A bottom-up approach for the formation of nano patterns
Dr J.H. (Jan) of Esch (University of Groningen) in cooperation with S. Hecht (Max Planck Institute for Coal Research, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany), P. Samori (Louis Pasteur University/ISIS Strasbourg, France)

In this research project new polymers will be designed which after binding to a surface fold up into puzzle pieces with dimensions of between 0.5 and 5 nanometres. These puzzle pieces assemble themselves in turn to form a regular two-dimensional pattern. A sort of 'self-solving puzzle', but then 10 million times smaller. This type of nanopatterns could possibly be used for the further miniaturisation of electronics or for the development of new sensors and biosensors.

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