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Complex molecular nanotechnology systems to be built in Netherlands

It’s great to see ambitious goals being set in nanotechnology, like these “molecular mini-factories“.

Researchers from a wide range of disciplines at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) will be joining forces in the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems (ICMS). They will be investigating the exact mechanism behind self-organization, the principle behind all life on earth. Researchers plan to use this knowledge to build molecular mini-factories that could produce the next generation of catalysts, photosynthetic systems, nanocontainers and functional materials. Prof. Bert Meijer will head the institute. The Executive Board of the university decided last week to allocate 15 million euros to the institute over the next 10 years.

Looking to nature as a model, TU/e scientists and engineers from the fields of mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology are taking on a tremendous challenge: to force a breakthrough in research into self-assembly among molecules. This is the next step toward manufacturing complex functional systems. Given the enormous possibilities afforded by nanoscience and microtechnology, researchers should be able to regulate the interactions between molecules such that the right molecular complex is formed. It is a highly complicated system where chemical and physical phenomena on different time and length scales come together.

Work such as this is on the pathway to productive nanosystems (see Roadmap). Credit: Nanoforum.org. –Christine

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