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About us Faculty of Science and Engineering Research Centre for Systems Chemistry


The Centre for Systems Chemistry (CSC) at the University of Groningen was established Feburary 2008 by Prof Ben L. Feringa to bring together the diverse skills base necessary to push forward the boundaries of systems chemistry. (press release)

The mission of the new centre for chemical systems & systems chemistry is the design, construction and study of complex chemical systems aiming at new functions.

Systems chemistry indicates a new frontier of research in molecular sciences, moving beyond the borders of traditional reductionist approaches and studies of single molecular entities to multi-component (multi-)functional chemical systems. The challenge is to create new functions from an ensemble of molecular components at different hierarchical levels or via molecular networks with emergent properties. These approaches might allow, for instance, the development of entirely novel molecular computing and information storage systems, nanoscale machinery, sustainable catalytic processes and smart materials and offers new prospects in drug discovery. The systems chemistry approach will provide fundamental insight in how molecular processes are interconnected in biological systems, such as the operation of chemical networks in the cell or how information transfer and control at the molecular mesoscopic and supra- (macro-)molecular level operates.

One of the foundations of the new field of chemistry is in chembiogenesis; the study of chemical systems that may be relevant to elucidate the early stages of chemical evolution. This is directly related to one of the greatest mysteries; the origin of life. The ultimate goal is the design of self-replicating molecular systems which may lead to a complex molecular organized system with mimick aspects of primitive life forms including being self-containing and self-sustainable featuring protocell type operation.

Building on major advances in synthetic chemistry, catalysis and supramolecular chemistry and taking advantage of a wealth of new analytic and spectroscopic techniques, the design of complex molecular systems with fascinating new functions and properties is within reach. In addition, the modification and use of biomolecules (proteins, DNA) to create entirely new functional hybrid systems and materials is envisioned. Among the major challenges ahead are: control of molecular assembly processes, integration of multicomponent structure and functions, kinetically controlled chemical systems and molecular networks, autocatalytic and self-replicating systems, autonomous processes, multi-catalytic and chemical systems with emergent , self-repairing and adaptive behaviour, dynamics of functional molecular systems including molecular machinery, molecular communication, signal transduction and feedback loops at different hierarchical levels.

The new Centre for Systems Chemistry will be embedded in the Stratingh Institute for Chemistry under the directorship of Prof. Ben L. Feringa (Jacobus van’t Hoff Professor of Molecular Sciences) with a total investment of 5 million euro. The Centre has played an important role in securing a 10 year 26.9 million euro grant, together with the Universities of Nijmegen and Eindhoven in 2012.

Last modified:08 January 2019 4.05 p.m.