HomeNewsERC Advanced grant for research on smart engineering at molecular scale

ERC Advanced grant for research on smart engineering at molecular scale

The European Research Council awarded a prestigious ERC Advanced Grant to Jurriaan Huskens, a researcher at the University of Twente's MESA+ institute and TechMed Centre. He will receive €2.5 million for research on the application of receptor recruitment in novel self-assembling materials for biosensors and nanolithography, for example.

Receptor recruitment is a biological process in which specific molecules (receptors) work together after binding to, for example, a virus for a stronger interaction and to initiate a biological response. The receptors 'recruit' each other and all move towards or into the cell surface. Biologists keep improving their understanding of this process but chemists rarely use it to develop new molecular design techniques.

Out of the biological context

This is why Jurriaan Huskens wants to take the process out of the biological context and apply it within nanotechnology. Huskens says: "If we succeed in bringing recruitment to nanotechnology, we can assemble materials in a different, controlled way and start making smart biosensors. As soon as a receptor on such a sensor recognises a virus particle, it immediately pulls in extra receptors to give a very accurate picture of the exact number of virus particles."

For those biosensors, Huskens will work on self-assembling materials at the nanoscale. By imitating nature, Huskens is thus developing new techniques to start building materials at the smallest scale. This could eventually lead to new, smaller or more efficient high-tech materials or, for example, artificial tissues.

More information

Prof Jurriaan Huskens is a professor of Molecular Nanofabrication (Faculty of S&T / MESA+ / TechMed Centre). The project for which he has been awarded the ERC Advanced Grant is called 'RECRUIT: Receptor Recruitment as an Organizational Principle for Self-Assembling Matter' and will start in December for five years.

About ERC Advanced Grant

The ERC, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premier European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. It funds creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based across Europe. The Advanced Grant is the largest of their four core grant schemes. The Advanced Grants help grantees bridge the gap between their pioneering research and its early commercialisation phases. This year, a total of 255 outstanding research leaders in Europe were awarded ERC Advanced Grants. The new grants, worth in total nearly €652 million, are part of the EU’s Horizon Europe programme.

K.W. Wesselink - Schram MSc (Kees)
Science Communication Officer (available Mon-Fri)