Reedijk Symposium 2014 - Guest Lecturers: Prof. Alan Rowan & Prof. Matthew Neurock (updated with photos)

Published on September 22, 2014
Reedijk Symposium 2014 - Guest Lecturers: Prof. Alan Rowan & Prof. Matthew Neurock (updated with photos)

On Friday October 31st 2014 the fourth annual Jan Reedijk LIC Symposium will be held. The main lectures of the day will be "Strain Stiffening - The key to Biomimetic Cytoskeletal Materials" by invited speaker Prof. Alan Rowan (Radboud University), and "Engineering Molecular Transformations over Supported Catalysts for Sustainable Energy Conversion" by Prof. Matthew Neurock (University of Minnesota).

The complete programme can be found here; photos of the symposium attendees & speakers can be found below.

Alan Rowan: Strain Stiffening - The key to Biomimetic Cytoskeletal Materials

Cell fate is a coordinated response caused by biomechanical and biochemical interactions with the extracellular matrix (ECM). Numerous synthetic gels have been developed as mimics of the extracellular matrix, in the hope of understanding how cells respond to the mechanical properties of the tissue microenvironment, with the goal being to develop a fully synthetic extracellular matrix for regenerative medicine applications. In contrast to all synthetic gels developed to date, the extracellular matrix proteins such as collagen type I, and fibrin, display nonlinear mechanical properties such as strain stiffening and negative normal stress. In these materials the elastic modulus of the gel increases by several orders of magnitude as the applied strain increases such that the resistance that a cell feels is strongly depended of the strain that it applies. In this presentation I will demonstrate the unique cytomimetic properties of hydrogels based on oligo(ethylene glycol) grafted polyisocyanopeptides. These extremely stiff helical polymers form gels upon warming at concentrations as low as 0.005 %-wt polymer, with materials properties almost identical to these of intermediate filaments and extracellular matrices. The macroscopic behaviour of these gels can be described in terms of the molecular properties of the basic stiff helical polymer and a multi-step hierarchical self-assembly, which results in strain stiffening. The unique ability of these materials and their application in cell growth and drug therapeutics will be discussed.

Matthew Neurock: Engineering Molecular Transformations over Supported Catalysts for Sustainable Energy Conversion

Future strategies for energy production will undoubtedly require processes and materials that can efficiently convert sustainable resources into fuels and chemicals.   While nature’s enzymes elegantly integrate highly active centers together with adaptive nanoscale environments in order to exquisitely control the catalytic transformation of molecules to specific products, they are difficult to incorporate into large scale industrial processes and limited in terms of their stability. 

The design of more robust heterogeneous catalytic materials that can mimic enzyme behavior, however, has been hindered by our limited understanding of how such transformations proceed over inorganic materials.  The tremendous advances in ab initio theoretical methods, molecular simulations and high performance computing that have occurred over the past two decades provide unprecedented ability to track these molecular transformations and how they proceed at specific sites and within particular environments. 

This information together with the unique abilities to follow such transformations spectroscopically is enabling the design of unique atomic surface ensembles and nanoscale reaction environment that can efficiently catalyze specific molecular transformations.

This talk discusses recent advances in computational catalysis and their application to engineering molecular transformations for energy conversion and chemical synthesis. More specifically, we will discuss the sites and nanoscale reaction environments necessary to carry out specific bond making and breaking reactions important in conversion of renewable feedstocks and the design of 2D and 3D environments necessary to carry out such transformations.

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