University of Twente’s Tibor Kudernac is amongst 291 top scientists across Europe that will receive an ERC Consolidator Grant. The grants, which are part of the Horizon 2020 programme and worth around € 2 million per applicant, were announced by the European Research Council yesterday afternoon.
His project titled MechanoTubes; Supramolecular machineries with life-like mechanical functions is all about developing chemo-mechanical transduction strategies that will allow dynamic molecules to perform a range of unprecedented tasks, e.g. by generating strong directional forces at the nanoscale, and through shape-shifting microscopic formations.
In his approach, Tibor draws inspiration from the operational principles of microtubules. He incorporates molecular photo-switches into supramolecular tubes, and enables controlled growth and disassembly of the tubes by using light as the energy input.
“This project addresses an open problem in nanoscience – that is, harnessing the mechanical work produced by molecular switches or machines in fluid environment and at length scales that are intermediate between small molecules and condensed macro(micro) matter. As such, it lays foundations for the field of supramolecular machines that operate at the nanoscale and beyond”, says Tibor Kudernac.
Tibor Kudernac completed his PhD degree in 2007 under the guidance of Prof. Ben L. Feringa and Prof. Bart J. van Wees (University of Groningen), with a thesis on “Light-controlled conductance using molecular switches”. Tibor then joined the group of Prof. S. De Feyter (KU Leuven), to investigate molecular self-assembly at liquid/solid interfaces in collaboration with Prof. Klaus Müllen (Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research) and Prof. Sigurd Höger (University of Bonn). In 2009 he returned to the University of Groningen to work with Prof. Feringa on the development of self-propelled molecules. In 2010 he joined the group of Prof. Karl-Heinz Ernst at EMPA (ETH-Domain, Switzerland), for a short stay. In April 2011, he joined the University of Twente where he started his independent career in 2013, and is now Assistant Professor at the Molecular Nanofabrication department of the Faculty of Science and Technology (MESA+). Tibor was awarded a VENI grant (2009), ECHO grant (2017) from the Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO) and an ERC Consolidator Grant (2018).