Damien Sluysmans, recipient of the Antonella Karlson Prize 2019
Damien Sluysmans, researcher at the MolSys Research Unit (Faculty of Science) is the winner of the Antonella Karlson Prize 2019. This prize, worth €5,000, rewards the work he has done in the framework of his PhD thesis in the field of molecular machines.
t is in the very specific field of nanochemistry that Damien Sluysmans, FNRS postdoc researcher in Prof. A-S. Duwez's NANOCHEM laboratory (MolSys Research Unit/Faculty of Sciences), developed his thesis topic. Entitled "Investigation into the Mechanochemical Properties of Single Oligorotaxane Foldamers by AFM", this work, which he defended in 2017, focused on synthetic molecular machines and more particularly the study of the folding of oligorotaxanes and their mechanochemical properties by atomic force microscopy at the single-molecule level. This work has been the subject of two publications in international scientific journals (Nature Nano. 2018, 13, 209 and PNAS 2018, 115, 9362). Molecular machines, which represent an important and growing research discipline, could offer very interesting prospects as these molecules could be used to develop high-performance artificial muscles or pistons, to bring drugs as close as possible to a cancerous tumour, or to enable data to be stored and processed at the scale of a single molecule in the field of computer science.
The work carried out by Damien Sluysmans as part of his thesis - in collaboration with Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and professor at Northwestern University (USA) - is today rewarded by the Antonella Karlson 2019 Prize - endowed with 5,000 euros - which was awarded to him at the FNRS Awards ceremony held on 21 January 2020. This prize, awarded in memory of the Bulgarian physicist, is granted every two years by the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (frs-FNRS) and rewards a doctoral thesis in a field of the exact sciences including physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science and applied sciences.
About molecular machines
Molecular machines are, as their name suggests, machines made of assemblies of molecular components that can use an energy source (light, heat or chemical) to transform it into mechanical energy, much like the engine of a car that converts the energy brought by the fuel into mechanical energy that will make the wheels of the vehicle turn. It is thanks to these machines that living beings "work" in a global way. In addition to these biological molecular machines, a wide range of fully synthetic molecular machines have recently been built by organic chemists. These artificial molecules are capable of outperforming their natural analogues. Although the prospects for the use of molecular machines are significant, their practical applications have yet to be studied and developed.