Plenary
speakers

Keynote
speakers

Focus sessions

This session will provide a state-of-the-art overview of computational approaches to support, guide and focus drug discovery research efforts in a variety of related fields including biochemistry, structural biology, biotechnology, pharmacology and medicine.

The field is continuously evolving and increasingly becoming more important to optimize discovery of biologically molecules, simulate their molecular behavior, develop novel mechanistic insights into biological processes and design and optimize molecules for industrial applications. Computational chemistry benefits from the intrinsic knowledge of researchers involved in both the chemical and computer sciences and thrives most apparently when these are applied to biomedical and bio-engineering questions, as coming from fields like cardiovascular disease, cancer or infection/virology. Novel softwares, artificial intelligence and the advent of ever-increasing computing speed has boosted the field even further. Development of biologically active inhibitory or stimulatory molecules is a frequent research question and examples of such molecules are the recently developed Protacs (Proteolysis targeting chimeras). Likewise novel peptides, small molecules and biologicals that were designed via in silico techniques now find their way into clinical trials.

The session will offer the stage to a mix of highly recognized international scientists and more junior speakers from both academia and industry.

In this focus session we will explore the molecular basis for antibody-mediated immunity to virus infections. Antibodies play a major role in adaptive immunity to virus infections, protective vaccine responses, and currently represent popular drug leads to develop antiviral therapeutics. By discussing the antibody response to several major human pathogens, including HIV-1, SARS-CoV-2, RSV and Influenza A Virus, we will see how structural details of the viral glycoproteins can shape and limit the antibody response to determine the outcome of infection and vaccine efficacy. We will further explore how molecular and structural insights into the antiviral antibody response can be harnessed to develop improved vaccines and antiviral therapeutics across multiple antibody platforms, including protein immunogens and single-domain VHH nanobodies. The session will cover both fundamental insights into the course of natural infection, and translational aspects of structure-based design from an industry perspective.

Keywords:
Virus; antibody; vaccine; antiviral drug; envelope glycoprotein; glycans; protein engineering

Biological catalysts are unmatched when it comes to the elegance and efficiency with which chemical reactions proceed. In this focus session, three scientists describe how their fascination for enzymes leads to artificial systems that enable totally new avenues, adaptation, or mimicry of these unmatched catalysts. First, Caroline Paul will present her quest for synthetic cofactors that have the ability to replace NAD in oxidoreductase-catalyzed reactions, and explain why this research is relevant from a mechanistic perspective. Then, Gerard Roelfes will describe their development of biosynthetic artificial enzymes that contain fully designed abiotic active sites that enable chemical transformations that nature cannot perform herself. The session will be concluded by a lecture of Jordi Keijzer, who will present his work on synthetic DNA-based hybrid catalyst constructs that have the unique ability to site-selectively modify native proteins. As such, the session describes various artificial approaches to biocatalysis, ranging from cofactor development to fully artificial systems that can do what no enzyme can.

Macrocyclic peptides (MPs) combine several features that render them attractive starting points for the development of pharmaceuticals and chemical probes: (1) cyclization of linear peptides restricts their conformational flexibility and reduces the entropic penalty upon binding to a biological target; (2) MPs cannot only target well-defined binding pockets, but also disrupt protein-protein interactions with high potencies and selectivities; (3) short MPs elicit a low immune response and often display improved stability against protease degradation. Over the past decade, new and powerful techniques based on rational design and in vitro selections have enabled the development of MP ligands to targets for which classic small-molecule approaches do not provide solutions. Fitting into this concept, this Focus Session will highlight emerging concepts for ligand design and discovery ranging from the creation of foldamer-peptide hybrids to the design of photoresponsive ligands and the use of mRNA display for the selection of MPs featuring non-natural building blocks. These and other approaches have reinvigorated a field that has been long-restricted to what nature had to offer and are therefore likely to pave the way toward the development of tailor-made MPs fit-for-use in the clinic and as biochemical tools.

Organs-on-chips are realistic laboratory models of human tissues and organs that can be used to test the safety and efficacy of medicines, cosmetics and food. Organs-on-chips are based on the culture of human tissues in devices with a controlled biomimetic microenvironment.
As we will discuss in this session, material science and chemistry are essential for functional organs-on-chips since they integrate biomaterials (hydrogels, biological materials, membranes) and functional materials (bioactive coatings and materials, sensors, actuators), and they take advantage of fabrication methods like 3D printing, 3D bioprinting, microfabrication and multi-material assembly. The application of organs-on-chips also demands a focus on manufacturability, scalabality and workflow integration.

Decades of polymer engineering have led to various plastic materials with a variety of tunable properties and applications saving, for example, transport related CO2 emissions or improving hygiene. Considerably less effort has gone into circular strategies for avoiding and dealing with the waste created. The majority of plastic waste is landfilled, burned, or leaks to the environment, harming wildlife and potentially humans, i.e. in the form of additives or micro- and nanoplastics via the food-chain. Unfortunately, only 12 % (by weight) of plastic packaging is recycled globally, mainly because the predominantly applied recycling technique of melting and re-extrusion produces a lower quality plastic. In addition, this process requires a highly pure stream of certain types of polymers. Only polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyolefins are currently recycled this way on a significant scale. Chemical pathways could turn plastic waste back into valuable chemical building blocks like aromatics or monomers and polymer engineering can create polymers that are more suited for recycling and more easily turned back into monomers. In this session, together with industry, we will discuss how chemistry can help boost current recycling rates and thus avoid plastic waste.

Nanomaterials and nanostructures provide unique mechanical, electrical, and optical properties and have played an important role in recent advances in energy-related applications.
The focus session invites contributions from the chemistry of the colloidal nanomaterials field and challenges the participants to address the need to enhance the nanomaterials’ performance in the energy field via application-specific smart chemical design. In particular, we will direct our efforts to highlight the latest developments in optoelectronic/photochemical devices where the colloidal nanomaterials play a key role. With these applications in mind, low-cost, solution-processable, and upscalable synthetic routes need to match the structure-surface engineering request to build up the next generation of nanomaterials. The symbiosis between the chemical design and the theoretical calculation will be explored to elucidate the reaction mechanism and the structural characteristics. The property-structure-chemical design relationships will be explored in-depth in order to highlight the novel available tools which can provide effective advancement in the field (such as high throughput experimental screening, rational materials design, machine learning, nanomaterials specific characterization technics, surface chemistry at the atomic level).

Coatings are present as solid layers covering nearly all objects we currently use. In spite of being ubiquitous they are often overlooked as the modest providers of protection or decoration purposes. They can play, however, important roles such as oxygen/humidity barriers, reducing drag, preventing corrosion or reducing accumulation of undesired material, e.g. dirt, bacteria, ice, etc. Such functional coatings have an added value. They enhance the materials performance and extend their lifetime contributing to a more sustainable use of the coated objects.
The chemistry involved in coatings is plentiful. It involves complex mixtures of polymers, inorganic oxides, solvents and organic molecules, e.g. catalysts and additives. Furthermore, the interfaces present entail many physical-chemical interactions between these components. Hence, the design of functional coatings requires high control over the materials chemistry, the physical-chemical interactions between the components, and over the interaction of the coatings with the environment and substrate.
In this session we bring a series of lectures addressing how to make use of materials chemistry and topology to develop functional coatings and surfaces of high relevance for current technological challenges, such as anti-fouling, anti-icing and durability (e.g. self-healing), present in a wide range of fields including aerospace and energy domains.

Redox catalysis and photo-redox reactions are contemporary research topics of increasing interest. These methods are synthetically attractive, as they offer unique controlled open-shell, single-electron & radical-type pathways for chemical bond functionalisation with different selectivities than traditional methods, often enabled by base metals instead of expensive, rare and toxic nobel metals. Chemical transformations frequently require multiple steps, harsh conditions or suffer from limited selectivity. With (photo)redox catalysis, improved atom-, step-, and redox-economy can be achieved. These methods have potential to play a role in desiging the next generation of scalable synthesis schemes, by making them specific, simple & energy- and feedstock-efficient.
Utilisation of electrons/holes via catalytic mediators provides a basis for scalable chemical conversions, providing tremendous opportunities for the development of new chemistry of the future. It provides the tools to enable a paradigm shift in (organic) synthesis and offers unique and interesting possibilities for chemical synthesis of importance to commodities and specialities such as functional group compatible CH functionalisation, improving energy efficiencies, control of chemo- & regioselectivity, complex skeletal rearrangements, reduction of waste & stoichiometric reagents and driving ‘uphill’ reactions. The topic also plays a crucial role in enabling ‘electrification’ of chemical industries to make our society more sustainable.

Hydrogenation of CO2 is expected to become a key technology for the storage of excess electricity in the transition towards renewable energy. However, current catalysts for large-scale CO2 reduction are not sufficiently active and stable. In this session, we focus on new insights obtained from combining experimental and theoretical research approaches in catalysis. Computational approaches of interest include multiscale modeling spanning from macroscopic chemical reaction engineering to nanoscale first-principles studies. Experimental approaches include operando characterization methods, to study the nature of active sites, and kinetics under realistic working conditions, which can be coupled with DFT and microkinetic modeling.

Chemical reactivity can be modified by varying external conditions, such as pressure and temperature. In the last several years, it has been shown that altering the optical environment constitutes a new approach to control the rate and yield of chemical reactions. This occurs due to hybridization between molecular vibrational transitions and optical cavity states, which can occur even in the dark. Optical cavities have already been used to alter reaction rates, product distribution, and even perturb enzyme activity. Despite this experimental evidence, the theoretical underpinnings are still not fully resolved. Given the bond-specific nature of cavity strong coupling, optical cavities could also be useful in identifying key reaction intermediates and mechanisms. Despite the potentially revolutionary consequences of this approach, relatively few groups have entered this growing field. This focus session will introduce the concept of vibrational strong coupling for chemistry (also known as polaritonic chemistry) and sketch the remaining challenges both from the experimental and theoretical point of view. One major goal of the session is to introduce the Dutch chemistry community to vibrational strong coupling via a diverse group of exceptional postdocs and senior PhDs from top groups.

Society’s need to tackle climate change requires the development of cost-effective processes that would realize the shift to a sustainable economy and green chemical manufacturing. A plethora of different technologies are being explored to enable the envisioned transition towards a more sustainable chemical industry. Based on the expected availability and low pricing of renewable electricity derived from solar and wind, electrochemistry can become a key enabling technology. Moreover, the ease of scalability and potential conversion of a variety of feedstocks, like biobased compounds and CO2, further depict the potency of electrochemical processes. However, to improve the targeted reaction’s efficiency and rate, along with the catalyst’s stability and product selectivity, advances in material science and engineering are pivotal. In this focus session, contributions of interdisciplinary nature are demonstrated with topics from industry, fundamental material chemistry (e.g. and operando high-resolution X-ray absorption spectroscopy), and electrochemical reactor engineering. The principal electrochemical reactions discussed are: OER/ORR, HER/HOR, CO2RR, glycerol electro-oxidation, NRR/ NO3-RR.

To address societal challenges related to Health, Energy, Water and Food, the science of nano/mesoscale processes in liquids which transcends the fields of chemistry, biology, and physics is coming into focus. To master chemical complexity and in order to create new materials, processes, and designs will in the future be increasingly based on emergent properties, i.e., properties that derive from interactions between individual nanoscale building blocks on mesoscopic length scales. Further progress in synthesis and assembly requires the capability to study processes in liquids and analyze the evolution of morphology, composition, and structure with dynamic, in situ measurements with nanometer resolution. These capabilities are now provided by liquid phase electron microscopy. Very recently, scientific breakthroughs have been achieved where the in-situ synthesis and growth of materials, the self-assembly processes of nanoparticles, hydration and cation exchange reactions, and etching behaviors have been followed in real time in the electron microscope. These experiments yield most valuable information on the stages and dynamics of these processes and on how these can be externally manipulated. The session focusses on the latest methodological developments in the field and to detail the emerging directions of innovative research it enables.

In recent years more and more complex organic molecules have been identified in the interstellar medium, the highly dilute environments in between the stars. As gas phase reactions are considered too inefficient to explain the observed abundances, astrochemical modelers have tried to explain the observations by taking into account surface reactions on icy dust grains. Meanwhile astronomers have been able to identify some 12 different frozen species, including H2O, CO2, CO, NH3, CH3, CH3OH and others that act as good precursor species for larger molecules (glycolaldehyde, ethylene glycol or glycerol, possibly even glycine) upon H, N, C, O atom bombardment, UV photolysis, cosmic ray impacts or electron irradiation. This session focuses on the chemical processes involved and aims to show to the Dutch chemical community how solid state reactions in interstellar ices may have been at the origin of the chemical composition of celestial bodies, such as comets, also explaining the differences in composition between the planets in our Solar system. _

Note: we will contact the targeted speakers as soon as we know that this focus session is awarded. Sergio and Thanja will be able to speak on location, Stefanie will speak remotely.

Hierarchical self-assembly through concerted action at different length scales allows the generation of functional supramolecular architectures with a high degree of order on both the nano- and macroscopic scales. While processes as micellization or emulsion formation are relatively well understood, the principles behind emergence of structures with competing length scales in soft matter systems remain poorly described. In this focus session, the newest insights on the chemistry of self-assembly at different length scales will be discussed by the different speakers.

At the smallest length scales, synthetic polymer chemistry approaches provided clever strategies for tuning monomer reactivities for directed supramolecular (co)polymerisation. Monomer synthesis and the dynamics of copolymer formation is supported by mathematical models to extract the thermodynamic parameters of self-assembly. Going from nanometer sized subunits to higher ordered structures solid-state NMR is employed to follow the role of protein misfolding and self-assembly in neurodegenerative diseases. The next length scale is that of colloidal assemblies. New functional materials from colloidal particles as well as scalable routes towards chemically reactive patchy colloids are discussed. Finally self-assembly of biohybrid materials is shown, where the best features of synthetic and biological materials are combined. Hereby also biological processes such as viral self-assembly are scrutinized.

Design and discovery of chemicals with desired properties have fueled human progress. Chemical discovery has largely been guided so far by expert knowledge, intuition and serendipity. Rational design principles often remain elusive due to the complexity arising from the intimate interplay of the electronic structure, molecular topology, and reaction conditions. Recent advances in spectroscopic and analytical methods, as well as theory and computer simulations, have pushed the boundaries of the chemical insight. Yet, rational design and guided discovery of chemical systems with desired characteristics and functionalities remain a major challenge. For example, cheap and abundant replacement of Pt in catalytic convertors, Ir in electrolyzers, and Li in batteries are some key contemporary challenges. Data-driven approaches can help navigate the chemical design space in the pursuit of desirable novel molecules and materials.
This focus session will include a short introductory speech (3 minutes), and three research talks (20+4 minutes) by distinguished international experts in data-driven chemistry. The speakers will discuss the challenges and opportunities of data science in chemistry, and explain their research spanning catalysis, energy storage, chemical space exploration, and a culmination of artificial intelligence with experiments and computations. All talks will include accessible background for a broad audience.

The chemical industry and chemists in general, have a responsibility for developing and implementing sustainable chemical technologies. This responsibility is felt throughout the community, but is under scrutiny by environmental groups who are critically assessing the proposed timelines.
In this focus session young innovative scientists, innovation hubs and industrial partners from PPP will discuss what sustainability means for them. How do they see the influence of greenhouse gas emissions and circularity and how much can be expected from scientists, industry and government?

We want to grow old healthy, produce clean food products, make industrial processes circular and stay safe. Innovative chemical sensing technologies that can detect and analyze the molecular composition in products, processes and the environment are crucial to achieve these goals. In this session scientists and private partners from PPP will elaborate on the scientific breakthroughs and innovations their want to, or have, achieved with respect to chemical sensing. The aimed R&D projects improve food quality, detect narcotics and personalize medical devices. We finish the focus session with an interactive inspirational session where we will, together with the audience, brainstorm about questions such as; ‘what do you want to sense?’ and ‘which sensing technologies are needed in the future?’

Soft matter never rests. Polymer molecules self-assemble into functional crystals by Brownian motion. Active colloidal particles act as fuel-propelled microrockets. Colloidal catalysts transfigure cheap chemicals into money makers.

For this focus session, the KNCV section “Soft Matter” will invite three prize-worthy young scientists who were recently promoted to doctor and who are each in their own way unraveling the secrets of soft matter chemistry in action. We also want to take the opportunity to hand out the KNCV-Van Arkel Prize 2018+2019 during this session (which could not be handed out sooner due to practical reasons).

As speakers, we propose to invite three exciting recent candidates for the KNCV-Van Arkel Prize, young scientists at the transition from postdoctoral to tenure track positions. If possible they will be the top 3 candidates for the prize that we plan to hand out this year, but if they are not all available, we also have great candidates from recent previous editions. The rules of the prize do not allow us to divulge their names at this moment, but they work on the focal subjects of colloidal catalysis, self-assembly of block copolymers, and active colloids.

More information will follow

Focus sessions

Chemistry of Life

This session will provide a state-of-the-art overview of computational approaches to support, guide and focus drug discovery research efforts in a variety of related fields including biochemistry, structural biology, biotechnology, pharmacology and medicine.

The field is continuously evolving and increasingly becoming more important to optimize discovery of biologically molecules, simulate their molecular behavior, develop novel mechanistic insights into biological processes and design and optimize molecules for industrial applications. Computational chemistry benefits from the intrinsic knowledge of researchers involved in both the chemical and computer sciences and thrives most apparently when these are applied to biomedical and bio-engineering questions, as coming from fields like cardiovascular disease, cancer or infection/virology. Novel softwares, artificial intelligence and the advent of ever-increasing computing speed has boosted the field even further. Development of biologically active inhibitory or stimulatory molecules is a frequent research question and examples of such molecules are the recently developed Protacs (Proteolysis targeting chimeras). Likewise novel peptides, small molecules and biologicals that were designed via in silico techniques now find their way into clinical trials.

The session will offer the stage to a mix of highly recognized international scientists and more junior speakers from both academia and industry.

In this focus session we will explore the molecular basis for antibody-mediated immunity to virus infections. Antibodies play a major role in adaptive immunity to virus infections, protective vaccine responses, and currently represent popular drug leads to develop antiviral therapeutics. By discussing the antibody response to several major human pathogens, including HIV-1, SARS-CoV-2, RSV and Influenza A Virus, we will see how structural details of the viral glycoproteins can shape and limit the antibody response to determine the outcome of infection and vaccine efficacy. We will further explore how molecular and structural insights into the antiviral antibody response can be harnessed to develop improved vaccines and antiviral therapeutics across multiple antibody platforms, including protein immunogens and single-domain VHH nanobodies. The session will cover both fundamental insights into the course of natural infection, and translational aspects of structure-based design from an industry perspective.

Keywords:
Virus; antibody; vaccine; antiviral drug; envelope glycoprotein; glycans; protein engineering

Biological catalysts are unmatched when it comes to the elegance and efficiency with which chemical reactions proceed. In this focus session, three scientists describe how their fascination for enzymes leads to artificial systems that enable totally new avenues, adaptation, or mimicry of these unmatched catalysts. First, Caroline Paul will present her quest for synthetic cofactors that have the ability to replace NAD in oxidoreductase-catalyzed reactions, and explain why this research is relevant from a mechanistic perspective. Then, Gerard Roelfes will describe their development of biosynthetic artificial enzymes that contain fully designed abiotic active sites that enable chemical transformations that nature cannot perform herself. The session will be concluded by a lecture of Jordi Keijzer, who will present his work on synthetic DNA-based hybrid catalyst constructs that have the unique ability to site-selectively modify native proteins. As such, the session describes various artificial approaches to biocatalysis, ranging from cofactor development to fully artificial systems that can do what no enzyme can.

Macrocyclic peptides (MPs) combine several features that render them attractive starting points for the development of pharmaceuticals and chemical probes: (1) cyclization of linear peptides restricts their conformational flexibility and reduces the entropic penalty upon binding to a biological target; (2) MPs cannot only target well-defined binding pockets, but also disrupt protein-protein interactions with high potencies and selectivities; (3) short MPs elicit a low immune response and often display improved stability against protease degradation. Over the past decade, new and powerful techniques based on rational design and in vitro selections have enabled the development of MP ligands to targets for which classic small-molecule approaches do not provide solutions. Fitting into this concept, this Focus Session will highlight emerging concepts for ligand design and discovery ranging from the creation of foldamer-peptide hybrids to the design of photoresponsive ligands and the use of mRNA display for the selection of MPs featuring non-natural building blocks. These and other approaches have reinvigorated a field that has been long-restricted to what nature had to offer and are therefore likely to pave the way toward the development of tailor-made MPs fit-for-use in the clinic and as biochemical tools.

Chemistry of Materials

Organs-on-chips are realistic laboratory models of human tissues and organs that can be used to test the safety and efficacy of medicines, cosmetics and food. Organs-on-chips are based on the culture of human tissues in devices with a controlled biomimetic microenvironment.

As we will discuss in this session, material science and chemistry are essential for functional organs-on-chips since they integrate biomaterials (hydrogels, biological materials, membranes) and functional materials (bioactive coatings and materials, sensors, actuators), and they take advantage of fabrication methods like 3D printing, 3D bioprinting, microfabrication and multi-material assembly. The application of organs-on-chips also demands a focus on manufacturability, scalabality and workflow integration.

Decades of polymer engineering have led to various plastic materials with a variety of tunable properties and applications saving, for example, transport related CO2 emissions or improving hygiene. Considerably less effort has gone into circular strategies for avoiding and dealing with the waste created. The majority of plastic waste is landfilled, burned, or leaks to the environment, harming wildlife and potentially humans, i.e. in the form of additives or micro- and nanoplastics via the food-chain. Unfortunately, only 12 % (by weight) of plastic packaging is recycled globally, mainly because the predominantly applied recycling technique of melting and re-extrusion produces a lower quality plastic. In addition, this process requires a highly pure stream of certain types of polymers. Only polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyolefins are currently recycled this way on a significant scale. Chemical pathways could turn plastic waste back into valuable chemical building blocks like aromatics or monomers and polymer engineering can create polymers that are more suited for recycling and more easily turned back into monomers. In this session, together with industry, we will discuss how chemistry can help boost current recycling rates and thus avoid plastic waste.

Nanomaterials and nanostructures provide unique mechanical, electrical, and optical properties and have played an important role in recent advances in energy-related applications.
The focus session invites contributions from the chemistry of the colloidal nanomaterials field and challenges the participants to address the need to enhance the nanomaterials’ performance in the energy field via application-specific smart chemical design. In particular, we will direct our efforts to highlight the latest developments in optoelectronic/photochemical devices where the colloidal nanomaterials play a key role. With these applications in mind, low-cost, solution-processable, and upscalable synthetic routes need to match the structure-surface engineering request to build up the next generation of nanomaterials. The symbiosis between the chemical design and the theoretical calculation will be explored to elucidate the reaction mechanism and the structural characteristics. The property-structure-chemical design relationships will be explored in-depth in order to highlight the novel available tools which can provide effective advancement in the field (such as high throughput experimental screening, rational materials design, machine learning, nanomaterials specific characterization technics, surface chemistry at the atomic level).

Briefly describe the topic of the focus session (max. 200 words):
Coatings are present as solid layers covering nearly all objects we currently use. In spite of being ubiquitous they are often overlooked as the modest providers of protection or decoration purposes. They can play, however, important roles such as oxygen/humidity barriers, reducing drag, preventing corrosion or reducing accumulation of undesired material, e.g. dirt, bacteria, ice, etc. Such functional coatings have an added value. They enhance the materials performance and extend their lifetime contributing to a more sustainable use of the coated objects.

The chemistry involved in coatings is plentiful. It involves complex mixtures of polymers, inorganic oxides, solvents and organic molecules, e.g. catalysts and additives. Furthermore, the interfaces present entail many physical-chemical interactions between these components. Hence, the design of functional coatings requires high control over the materials chemistry, the physical-chemical interactions between the components, and over the interaction of the coatings with the environment and substrate.

In this session we bring a series of lectures addressing how to make use of materials chemistry and topology to develop functional coatings and surfaces of high relevance for current technological challenges, such as anti-fouling, anti-icing and durability (e.g. self-healing), present in a wide range of fields including aerospace and energy domains.

Chemical Conversion

Redox catalysis and photo-redox reactions are contemporary research topics of increasing interest. These methods are synthetically attractive, as they offer unique controlled open-shell, single-electron & radical-type pathways for chemical bond functionalisation with different selectivities than traditional methods, often enabled by base metals instead of expensive, rare and toxic nobel metals. Chemical transformations frequently require multiple steps, harsh conditions or suffer from limited selectivity. With (photo)redox catalysis, improved atom-, step-, and redox-economy can be achieved. These methods have potential to play a role in desiging the next generation of scalable synthesis schemes, by making them specific, simple & energy- and feedstock-efficient.

Utilisation of electrons/holes via catalytic mediators provides a basis for scalable chemical conversions, providing tremendous opportunities for the development of new chemistry of the future. It provides the tools to enable a paradigm shift in (organic) synthesis and offers unique and interesting possibilities for chemical synthesis of importance to commodities and specialities such as functional group compatible CH functionalisation, improving energy efficiencies, control of chemo- & regioselectivity, complex skeletal rearrangements, reduction of waste & stoichiometric reagents and driving ‘uphill’ reactions. The topic also plays a crucial role in enabling ‘electrification’ of chemical industries to make our society more sustainable.

Hydrogenation of CO2 is expected to become a key technology for the storage of excess electricity in the transition towards renewable energy. However, current catalysts for large-scale CO2 reduction are not sufficiently active and stable. In this session, we focus on new insights obtained from combining experimental and theoretical research approaches in catalysis. Computational approaches of interest include multiscale modeling spanning from macroscopic chemical reaction engineering to nanoscale first-principles studies. Experimental approaches include operando characterization methods, to study the nature of active sites, and kinetics under realistic working conditions, which can be coupled with DFT and microkinetic modeling.

Chemical reactivity can be modified by varying external conditions, such as pressure and temperature. In the last several years, it has been shown that altering the optical environment constitutes a new approach to control the rate and yield of chemical reactions. This occurs due to hybridization between molecular vibrational transitions and optical cavity states, which can occur even in the dark. Optical cavities have already been used to alter reaction rates, product distribution, and even perturb enzyme activity. Despite this experimental evidence, the theoretical underpinnings are still not fully resolved. Given the bond-specific nature of cavity strong coupling, optical cavities could also be useful in identifying key reaction intermediates and mechanisms. Despite the potentially revolutionary consequences of this approach, relatively few groups have entered this growing field. This focus session will introduce the concept of vibrational strong coupling for chemistry (also known as polaritonic chemistry) and sketch the remaining challenges both from the experimental and theoretical point of view. One major goal of the session is to introduce the Dutch chemistry community to vibrational strong coupling via a diverse group of exceptional postdocs and senior PhDs from top groups.

Society’s need to tackle climate change requires the development of cost-effective processes that would realize the shift to a sustainable economy and green chemical manufacturing. A plethora of different technologies are being explored to enable the envisioned transition towards a more sustainable chemical industry. Based on the expected availability and low pricing of renewable electricity derived from solar and wind, electrochemistry can become a key enabling technology. Moreover, the ease of scalability and potential conversion of a variety of feedstocks, like biobased compounds and CO2, further depict the potency of electrochemical processes. However, to improve the targeted reaction’s efficiency and rate, along with the catalyst’s stability and product selectivity, advances in material science and engineering are pivotal. In this focus session, contributions of interdisciplinary nature are demonstrated with topics from industry, fundamental material chemistry (e.g. and operando high-resolution X-ray absorption spectroscopy), and electrochemical reactor engineering. The principal electrochemical reactions discussed are: OER/ORR, HER/HOR, CO2RR, glycerol electro-oxidation, NRR/ NO3-RR.

Fundamentals and
Methods of Chemistry

To address societal challenges related to Health, Energy, Water and Food, the science of nano/mesoscale processes in liquids which transcends the fields of chemistry, biology, and physics is coming into focus. To master chemical complexity and in order to create new materials, processes, and designs will in the future be increasingly based on emergent properties, i.e., properties that derive from interactions between individual nanoscale building blocks on mesoscopic length scales. Further progress in synthesis and assembly requires the capability to study processes in liquids and analyze the evolution of morphology, composition, and structure with dynamic, in situ measurements with nanometer resolution. These capabilities are now provided by liquid phase electron microscopy. Very recently, scientific breakthroughs have been achieved where the in-situ synthesis and growth of materials, the self-assembly processes of nanoparticles, hydration and cation exchange reactions, and etching behaviors have been followed in real time in the electron microscope. These experiments yield most valuable information on the stages and dynamics of these processes and on how these can be externally manipulated. The session focusses on the latest methodological developments in the field and to detail the emerging directions of innovative research it enables.

In recent years more and more complex organic molecules have been identified in the interstellar medium, the highly dilute environments in between the stars. As gas phase reactions are considered too inefficient to explain the observed abundances, astrochemical modelers have tried to explain the observations by taking into account surface reactions on icy dust grains. Meanwhile astronomers have been able to identify some 12 different frozen species, including H2O, CO2, CO, NH3, CH3, CH3OH and others that act as good precursor species for larger molecules (glycolaldehyde, ethylene glycol or glycerol, possibly even glycine) upon H, N, C, O atom bombardment, UV photolysis, cosmic ray impacts or electron irradiation. This session focuses on the chemical processes involved and aims to show to the Dutch chemical community how solid state reactions in interstellar ices may have been at the origin of the chemical composition of celestial bodies, such as comets, also explaining the differences in composition between the planets in our Solar system. _

Note: we will contact the targeted speakers as soon as we know that this focus session is awarded. Sergio and Thanja will be able to speak on location, Stefanie will speak remotely.

Hierarchical self-assembly through concerted action at different length scales allows the generation of functional supramolecular architectures with a high degree of order on both the nano- and macroscopic scales. While processes as micellization or emulsion formation are relatively well understood, the principles behind emergence of structures with competing length scales in soft matter systems remain poorly described. In this focus session, the newest insights on the chemistry of self-assembly at different length scales will be discussed by the different speakers.

At the smallest length scales, synthetic polymer chemistry approaches provided clever strategies for tuning monomer reactivities for directed supramolecular (co)polymerisation. Monomer synthesis and the dynamics of copolymer formation is supported by mathematical models to extract the thermodynamic parameters of self-assembly. Going from nanometer sized subunits to higher ordered structures solid-state NMR is employed to follow the role of protein misfolding and self-assembly in neurodegenerative diseases. The next length scale is that of colloidal assemblies. New functional materials from colloidal particles as well as scalable routes towards chemically reactive patchy colloids are discussed. Finally self-assembly of biohybrid materials is shown, where the best features of synthetic and biological materials are combined. Hereby also biological processes such as viral self-assembly are scrutinized.

Design and discovery of chemicals with desired properties have fueled human progress. Chemical discovery has largely been guided so far by expert knowledge, intuition and serendipity. Rational design principles often remain elusive due to the complexity arising from the intimate interplay of the electronic structure, molecular topology, and reaction conditions. Recent advances in spectroscopic and analytical methods, as well as theory and computer simulations, have pushed the boundaries of the chemical insight. Yet, rational design and guided discovery of chemical systems with desired characteristics and functionalities remain a major challenge. For example, cheap and abundant replacement of Pt in catalytic convertors, Ir in electrolyzers, and Li in batteries are some key contemporary challenges. Data-driven approaches can help navigate the chemical design space in the pursuit of desirable novel molecules and materials.

This focus session will include a short introductory speech (3 minutes), and three research talks (20+4 minutes) by distinguished international experts in data-driven chemistry. The speakers will discuss the challenges and opportunities of data science in chemistry, and explain their research spanning catalysis, energy storage, chemical space exploration, and a culmination of artificial intelligence with experiments and computations. All talks will include accessible background for a broad audience.

The chemical industry and chemists in general, have a responsibility for developing and implementing sustainable chemical technologies. This responsibility is felt throughout the community, but is under scrutiny by environmental groups who are critically assessing the proposed timelines.

In this focus session young innovative scientists, innovation hubs and industrial partners from PPP will discuss what sustainability means for them. How do they see the influence of greenhouse gas emissions and circularity and how much can be expected from scientists, industry and government?

We want to grow old healthy, produce clean food products, make industrial processes circular and stay safe. Innovative chemical sensing technologies that can detect and analyze the molecular composition in products, processes and the environment are crucial to achieve these goals. In this session scientists and private partners from PPP will elaborate on the scientific breakthroughs and innovations their want to, or have, achieved with respect to chemical sensing. The aimed R&D projects improve food quality, detect narcotics and personalize medical devices. We finish the focus session with an interactive inspirational session where we will, together with the audience, brainstorm about questions such as; ‘what do you want to sense?’ and ‘which sensing technologies are needed in the future?’

Soft matter never rests. Polymer molecules self-assemble into functional crystals by Brownian motion. Active colloidal particles act as fuel-propelled microrockets. Colloidal catalysts transfigure cheap chemicals into money makers.

For this focus session, the KNCV section “Soft Matter” will invite three prize-worthy young scientists who were recently promoted to doctor and who are each in their own way unraveling the secrets of soft matter chemistry in action. We also want to take the opportunity to hand out the KNCV-Van Arkel Prize 2018+2019 during this session (which could not be handed out sooner due to practical reasons).

As speakers, we propose to invite three exciting recent candidates for the KNCV-Van Arkel Prize, young scientists at the transition from postdoctoral to tenure track positions. If possible they will be the top 3 candidates for the prize that we plan to hand out this year, but if they are not all available, we also have great candidates from recent previous editions. The rules of the prize do not allow us to divulge their names at this moment, but they work on the focal subjects of colloidal catalysis, self-assembly of block copolymers, and active colloids.

More information will follow

Parallel sessions

More information will follow.

Masterclasses

NWO CHAINS offers Masterclasses for PhD students. Masterclasses will be held online on Monday 6 December 2021 from 15:00 hrs to 17:00 hrs. You can register for a Masterclass during the registration for NWO CHAINS.
As spots are limited to 25 participants per Masterclass register as soon as possible via online.nwochains.nl.

Positively Design your Career & Life

Lisette van de Sandt

Max. number of participants: 25

Whereas jobs for life used to be widespread, new life designs are waiting for you to take advantage! In this interactive workshop, you’ll experience how you can shape your career in a more positive and fulfilling way and design your future.

We’ll dive deep into the worlds of positive psychology and design thinking. Questions like: ‘what do I value in life?’, ‘what meaningful work do I enjoy’ and ‘what alternative careers could I lead?’ start our journey of exploration. You’ll learn how to carry out small experiments to get new insights and take decisions. So, get ready for some interactive experiments and discussions!

Publishing: Tips for Manuscript Writing and Successful Submissions

Dr. Jonathan Faiz, Wiley; in collaboration with KNCV

Max. number of participants: 25

Publishing papers in reputed journals is an integral part of the research cycle. In this workshop, we will open the Editor’s black box by explaining how manuscripts are processed from submission to publication, and how we support researchers in achieving their ambitions.

In addition, we will discuss ethical aspects of publishing and give tips on how to prepare your manuscript for submission and improve your chances for successful publication. Topics to be covered include: An introduction to Chemistry Europe; The job of an Editor; How do I simplify my writing and improve the presentation of my results?; How do I choose the right journal for submission?;  What do Editors and referees look for?; How do I improve the visibility of my research.

Career opportunities outside the academic world

Lisette Spoelder, Herakles Pharma Staffing

Max. number of participants: 25

What are your plans after the PhD? Staying in academia or leave? And what are the options and challenges if you want to pursue a non-academic career? In this workshop, speakers with various career paths will tell their story and give tips and tricks on how to build a career outside the academic world.

Impact of science through innovation & startups

Frans Nauta, Kilimapartners

Max. number of participants: 25

Scientific breakthroughs in chemistry have had an incredible impact on our society, both in good and not-so-good ways. Just open the newspaper and it’s clear: in the future we’re going to need even more chemistry breakthroughs to protect human society and the planet we live on.

In this Masterclass we look at turning scientific breakthroughs into practical innovations that work. It’s really hard work, but also incredibly fun. Especially if you can do it in a small team of highly dedicated, motivated and focussed people (= a startup).

The teacher is Frans Nauta, who has trained and coached >1.000 startups in all continents of the world (bar Antarctica), mainly on cleantech. He’s also the founder and program manager of Faculty of Impact, a new national program for postdocs to work two years on building a company with impact, based on their research. It’s based on a program from UC Berkeley called Cyclotron Road, where Frans used to work.

Be prepared to do practical work in this Masterclass on how to turn research into impact. If you are already working on a (business) idea feel free to bring a co-founder or -conspirator with you.

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The Power of Media

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Diederik Jekel

Max. number of participants: 25

Diederik Jekel provides all his tips and tricks in his masterclass ‘The Power of Media’. How do you convey your scientific work to the general public? How do you deal with difficult discussions? How do you make your topic simple and understandable? He can help with concrete questions about a specific topic and work out with you personally how your message can best be conveyed.

He can help with concrete questions about a specific topic and work out with you personally how your message can best be conveyed. Check it out – and join us!

Group leader meeting

On Monday 6 December 2021 a pre- NWO CHAINS event is organised for group leaders at the NH Koningshof in Veldhoven. At this event, group leaders are given the opportunity to meet, interact and discuss hot topics. The Round Table Chemistry selects discussion topics provided by the four chemistry research communities to form an interactive and coherent programme. The event will start in the late afternoon and will include a luxury dinner and an overnight stay. Although we would like to welcome all group leaders, we might have to limit the number of participants for this event due to corona measures. In that case, we will apply a ‘first come, first serve’ policy. If you want to meet your peers at this event, make sure you select the group leader event option in your NWO CHAINS registration form.

And more

Awards & Prizes

The NWO Domain Science hands out five special scientific awards. These awards recognise the achievements of scientists in various areas of scientific research. There is an award for inspirational teamwork (Team Science Award), an award for science communication for a wider audience (Communication Award), an award to foster diversity (Diversity Initiative Award and Athena Award) and an award for the societal impact of scientific results (Stairway to Impact Award). The ceremony of one of these awards might be during NWO CHAINS.

Programme overview

More information about the programme of NWO CHAINS 2021 will follow.

Registration

Registration is open.