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Simona Irrera

Dr Simona Irrera

Research Fellow


University College London

Research summary

Supramolecular chemistry is the area of chemistry beyond individual molecules and focuses on the chemical systems built by a discrete number of assembled molecular subunits or components. The forces responsible for the spatial organization may vary from weak (intermolecular forces, electrostatic or hydrogen bonding) to strong (covalent bonding). Supramolecular chemistry examines the weaker and reversible noncovalent interactions between molecules. These forces include hydrogen bonding, metal coordination, hydrophobic forces, Van der Waals forces, pi-pi interactions and electrostatic effects. Important concepts that have been demonstrated by supramolecular chemistry include molecular self-assembly and molecular recognition.

In materials science, supramolecular chemistry is important in the attachment of monolayer films on solid surfaces, which are of great interest due to their applications in functionalized surface-based technology. Indeed, thin organic films have the potential to modify the chemical and structural properties of surfaces, which is of considerable technological importance for electronic and optical materials, electrocatalysis, biological and chemical sensors. These assemblies can be used as corrosion inhibitors and can be employed as additives in planting baths as well as compete with traditional polymers due to their easy purification and assembly under mild conditions, thus avoiding the polymerisation reaction that could damage chromophores.

Our work aims to acquire a deeper understanding of the ordering and functionality of DNA/RNA bases self-assembled on metal surfaces. The study of non-covalent interactions is crucial to our understanding of many biological processes, from cell structure to the description of the structure/function correlation. Biological systems are often the inspiration for supramolecular research because weak interactions determine highly specific functions, including molecular recognition.

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

Molecular modelling of DNA/RNA bases on metal surfaces

Scheme: Newton International Fellowships

Dates: Mar 2009 - Mar 2011

Value: £100,080