Scheme: Newton International Fellowships
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Dates: Jan 2011-Jan 2013
Summary: Non-covalent interactions determine the functional properties of most molecular systems, the self-organisation of molecular materials, the efficiency of molecular sensors, the three-dimensional structure of macromolecules and binding and catalysis in synthetic and biological systems. The characterisation of weak, non-covalent interactions is an issue of fundamental interest in supramolecular and biological chemistry, since these interactions control a range of processes, such as protein folding, molecular recognition and the formation of crystalline solids. The goal of this research programme is to develop a quantitative understanding of molecular recognition in complex systems, through detailed systematic experiments on individual aspects of the problem such as desolvation and cooperative effects in multivalent systems.
Cooperativity is one of the critical factors that have complicated the development of quantitative molecular recognition chemistry. But it is also one of the most important properties of the molecular systems found in biology. For instance, it is seen in the binding of oxygen to haemoglobin, or the folding of biopolymers (e.g., protein, DNA, or RNA). Our program focuses on developing an improved quantitative understanding of cooperativity at multivalent recognition interfaces using synthetic supramolecular complexes.
A reliable quantitative mapping of the relationship between chemical structure and the thermodynamics of non-covalent interactions would unlock the doorway to a new era in rational molecular design in many areas where trial and error or screening currently represent the state of the art. The nature of this research is such that it may have impact in a variety of related fields such as synthesis, catalysis, drug design, nanotechnology, molecular sensors, etc.