Research

Research introduction

Coordination chemistry is the chemistry of metal atoms "coordinated" by other atoms, ions or molecules. Important challenges in the research on coordination and organometallic chemistry are to understand the relation between the ligand and metal complex structures and the (catalytic) properties of the resulting complex on the molecular level. The design of new ligands, with various steric and electronic constraints is a major challenge, and from here the prediction of the coordination geometry and intramolecular interaction and reactivity is a major goal. Methodologies in research vary from fundamental coordination chemistry (spectroscopy, magnetism, X-ray diffraction), including characterisation and structure of the solid compounds, to in situ characterisation of the solutions with NMR and (frozen solution) EPR, under (catalytic) reaction conditions.

Research themes

Catalysis

Many industrial processes are not very effective from an environmental and economic point of view, by being energetically inefficient or by producing undesired byproducts, like salts. Several lines of applied research carried out in our group concern the development of atom-efficient, novel routes to existing bulk chemicals that are currently produced using stoichiometric chemistry. In other research projects the research is more fundamental in nature, without immediate possible application in an industrial process. Finally, some catalytic topics are inspired by Nature.

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Biomimetics

Many enzymes contain a metal ion as the catalytic center, which is commonly denoted as the active site. In the active site, the metal ion is attached to the functional groups of several specific amino acids, for instance to imidazole groups of histidine residues. In biomimetics we try to make low-molecular weight complexes as models for the active site of a specific enzyme, with the aim to gain insight in the structure of the enzyme, or in order to mimic the function of the enzyme.

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Inorganic Materials

Molecules are "inorganic" when they contain one or several metal atoms surrounded by organic ligands. Inorganic molecules are interesting for material science because of the rich chemistry associated to the outer electrons of the metal centre.

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Light-activatable anti-tumor drugs

Many metal ions play a prominent role in natural processes, and some of them, like platinum, are already in use for the treatment of certain forms of cancer. Platinum-based chemotherapy has, however, many side effects for cancer patients because anticancer drugs kill not only cancer cells but also healthy ones.

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