The amount of information trafficking internet nowadays is enormous and will increase further in the near future. It can be expected that in the next decennia the current technologies to store and process data will no longer suffice and that other strategies to handle information have to be developed. One approach is to explore chemical routes, which nature has also followed during evolution: our brain can store and handle very large amounts of data and process them in a way silicon-based computers cannot do. Although brain-like chemical computers are still far beyond reach, it is of interest to explore how atom and molecule-based systems that can write, read, and store information might be designed and constructed.
In our group we aim at developing a new technology to write, store, and read information, i.e. on single polymer chains with the help of a molecular machine that is inspired by the hypothetical device (Turing machine) proposed by the British mathematician Alan Turing in 1936 as the general basis for the operation of a computer.
The molecular machine (shown in green in the image) is composed of a chiral catalytic cage compound (tape-head) that moves unidirectionally along a chiral polymer chain (yellow) while writing a binary code in the form of (R)- (symbol 0, red) and (S)- (symbol 1, purple) epoxide functions. This writing process is controlled by light or electrons.
Over the years, research in the group has focused on the development of supramolecular catalysts and materials using nature as a guide. Our research interests are wide-spread, covering many topics including chiral polymers, host-guest chemistry, liquid-crystals, surfactants, enzymes, viruses, single molecule spectroscopy, and single molecule catalysis.
M. Kauranen, T. Verbiest, C. Boutton, M.N. Teerenstra, K. Clays, A.J. Schouten, R.J.M. Nolte, and A. Persoons, “Supramolecular second-order nonlinearity of polymers with orientationally correlated chromophores”, Science, 270 (1995) 966
J.J.L.M. Cornelissen, M. Fischer, N.A.J.M. Sommerdijk, R.J.M. Nolte, “Helical superstructures from charged poly(styrene)-poly(isocyanodipeptide) block copolymers”, Science, 280 (1998) 1427
H. Engelkamp, S. Middelbeek, R.J.M. Nolte, “Self-assembly of disk-shaped molecules to coiled-coil aggregates with tunable helicity”, Science, 284 (1999) 785
J.J.L.M. Cornelissen, J.J.J.M. Donners, R. de Gelder, W.S. Graswinckel, A.E. Rowan, N.A.J.M. Sommerdijk, and R.J.M. Nolte, “-Helical polymers from isocyanopeptides”, Science, 293 (2001) 676
P. Thordarson, E.J.A. Bijsterveld, A.E. Rowan, and R.J.M. Nolte, “Epoxidation of polybutadiene by a topologically-linked processive catalyst”, Nature, 424 (2003) 915
R. van Hameren, P. Schön, A. van Buul, J. Hoogboom, S.V. Lazarenko, J.W. Gerritsen, H. Engelkamp, P.C.M. Christianen, H.A. Heus, J.C. Maan, Th. Rasing, S. Speller, A.E. Rowan., J.A.A.W. Elemans, and R.J. M. Nolte, “Macroscopic, hierarchical surface patterning of porphyrin trimers via self-assembly and dewetting”, Science, 314 (2006) 1433
N. Carette, H. Engelkamp, E. Akpa, S.J. Pierre, N.R. Cameron, P.C.M. Christianen, J.C. Maan, J.C. Thies, R. Weberskirch, A.E. Rowan, R.J.M. Nolte, T. Michon, and J.C.M. van Hest, “A virus-based biocatalyst”, Nature Nanotechnology, 2 (2007) 226
B. Hulsken, R. van Hameren, J.W. Gerritsen, T. Khoury, P. Thordarson, M.J. Crossley, A.E. Rowan, R.J.M. Nolte, J.A.A.W. Elemans, and S. Speller, “Real-time single molecule imaging of alkene oxidation by manganese porphyrins at a liquid-solid interface”, Nature Nanotechnology, 2 (2007) 285
M.Comellas-Aragonès, H. Engelkamp, V.I. Claessen, N.A.J.M. Sommerdijk, A.E. Rowan, P.C.M. Christianen, J.C. Maan, B.J.M. Verduin, J.J.L.M. Cornelissen, and R.J.M. Nolte, “A virus-based single-enzyme nanoreactor”, Nature Nanotechnology, 2 (2007) 635
A.B.C. Deutman, C. Monnereau, J.A.A.W. Elemans, G. Ercolani, R.J.M. Nolte, and A.E. Rowan, “Mechanism of threading a polymer through a macrocyclic ring”, Science, 322 (2008) 1668
M.A. Kostiainen, O. Kasyutich, J.J.L.M. Cornelissen, and R.J.M.Nolte, “Self-assembly and optically triggered disassembly of dendron-virus complexes”, Nature Chem., 2 (2010) 394
D.A. Wilson, R.J.M. Nolte, and J.C.M. van Hest, “Autonomous movement of platinum loaded stomatocytes”, Nature Chem., 4 (2012), 268
P.H.J. Kouwer, M. Koepf, V.A.A. Le Sage, M. Jaspers, A.M. van Buul, Z.H. Eksteen-Akeroyed, T. Woltinge, E. Schwartz, H.J. Kitto, R. Hoogenboom, S.J. Picken, R.J.M. Nolte, E. Mendes, and A.E. Rowan, “Responsive biomimetic networks from polyisocyanopeptide hydrogels”, Nature, 493 (2013) 651
D. den Boer, M. Li, Th. Habets, P. Iavicoli, A.E. Rowan, R.J.M. Nolte, S. Speller, D.B. Amabilino, S. De Feyeter, and J.A.A.W. Elemans, “Detection of different oxidation states of individual manganese porphyrins during their reaction with oxygen at a solid/liquid interface”, Nature Chem., 5, 621 (2013)
S. F. M. van Dongen, J. Clerx, K. Nørgaard, T. G. Bloemberg, J. J. L. M. Cornelissen, M. A. Trakselis, S. W. Nelson, S. J. Benkovic, A. E. Rowan, and R. J. M. Nolte, “A clamp-like biohybrid catalyst for DNA oxidation”, Nature Chem., 5, 945-951 (2013)
P.G. van Rhee, R.S.M. Rikken, L.K.E.A. Abdelmohsen, J.C. Maan, R.J.M. Nolte, J.C.M. van Hest, P.C.M. Christianen, and D.A. Wilson, Polymersome magneto-valves for reversible capture and release of nanoparticles, Nature Communications, 5, article number 5010 (2014)
R.S.M. Rikken, H. Engelkamp, R.J.M. Nolte, J.C. Maan, J.C.M. van Hest, D.A. Wilson, and P.C.M. Christianen, “Shaping polymersomes into predictable morphologies via out-of-equilibrium self-assembly”, Nature Commun., 7, article number 12606 (2016)