EventAssoc. Prof. Rienk Eelkema

Catalytic Control over Soft Molecular Materials

Biological tissue and the living cell arguably constitute the epitome of soft matter. Especially in terms of dynamic functions and processes such as transport, signalling/communication, self-healing, replication, transient assembly, and motion, biological systems go far beyond anything current artificial materials have to offer. In this presentation, I will show how we applied core concepts of biological self-assembly to the construction of dynamic, out-of-equilibrium soft molecular materials, in an attempt to bridge this gap.[1] We can now start to control dynamic properties such as lifetime, self-healing, and spatial/temporal distribution by coupling the self-assembly process to chemical reactions, in particular using molecular catalysis.[2,3] In detail, I will show how the growth and properties of hydrogelator based networks based on hydrazone links can be controlled using either acid or nucleophilic catalysis, and how catalysis can be used to control the size of gel objects and to create responsive materials.[4,5]

[1]   Boekhoven, J.; Hendriksen, W.E.; Koper, G.J.M.; Eelkema, R.; van Esch J.H.; Science 2015, 349, 1075-1079

[2]   Boekhoven, J.; Poolman J.M.; Maity, C.; Li, F.; van der Mee, L.; Minkenberg, C.B.; Mendes, E.; van Esch, J.H.; Eelkema R.; Nature Chem. 2013, 5, 433-437

[3]   Maity, C.; Hendriksen, W.E.; van Esch, J.H.; Eelkema, R.; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 998-1001

[4]   M. Lovrak, W. E. J. Hendriksen, C. Maity, S. Mytnyk, V. van Steijn, R. Eelkema, J. H. van Esch; Nature Commun., 2017, 8, 15317

[5]   F. Trausel, C. Maity, J. M. Poolman, D. S. J. Kouwenberg, F. Versluis, J. H. van Esch, and R. Eelkema; Nature Commun. 2017, 8, 879


About The Speaker


Rienk was born in 1978 near Utrecht, the Netherlands. He completed his undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of Groningen in 2001, majoring in organic chemistry (supervisor Prof. Ben L. Feringa). He then obtained his PhD in Chemistry in the same group, studying supramolecular chemistry, stereochemistry and nano- and microscale motion in liquid crystalline systems. After completing postdoctoral work at the University of Oxford with Prof. Harry L. Anderson FRS in the field of nanoscale insulation of molecular wires, he joined the TU Delft Faculty in 2008 and obtained tenure in 2013. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2017. At Delft, his main themes are to use in situ chemical reactivity to control the behavior of soft materials, which includes using catalysis to steer self-assembly processes as well as dynamic, out-of-equilibrium assembly, and the application of organic chemistry to problems in physics, biology and biomedicine. For parts of this work, he received VENI, VIDI and ERC grants.