New grants to fund molecular machine research in The Netherlands

A news release from the University of Amsterdam announced project grants for research on molecular machines:

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded Sander Woutersen and Wybren Jan Buma — both staff members of the Molecular Photonics group — individual ECHO grants for research on molecular machines. ECHO grants are €260,000 project grants designated for Excellent CHemical Research projects.

The project headed by Sander Woutersen is entitled Slippery when wet: How water lubricates molecular machines and explores the effects of water on molecular machines. Surprisingly enough, the presence of small quantities of water has proven to greatly accelerate the movement of molecular machines. This research project will strive to establish why this process occurs. Woutersen also aims to establish the extent to which this phenomenon explains why biomolecular machines only function optimally in water.

Wybren Jan Buma was awarded an ECHO grant for his Molecular machines at work in the gas phase project. Taking their cue from nature, scientists are currently working to build molecules that can mimic macroscopic machines. In order to help us understand how machines on this scale work, the project will examine the structural changes that occur when a molecular machine is not disrupted by its environment or is disrupted under controlled conditions.

ECHO grants are designed to facilitate high-quality research projects rooted in intellectual curiosity. This will allow for the development of audacious ideas, and help lay the groundwork for the research themes of the future and/or scientific innovation.

It will be interesting to see if the results are “audacious” enough to “lay the groundwork” for molecular manufacturing.

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