The European Research Council (ERC) just announced that our director Prof. Serena DeBeer, head of the department ‘Inorganic Spectroscopy’, and her colleagues Prof. Unni Olsbye (University of Oslo, Norway), Prof. Vincent Eijsink (Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway) and Prof. Silvia Bordiga (University of Turin, Italy) will receive an ERC Synergy Grant for their new project CUBE.
ERC "is the premier European funding organisation for excellent frontier research" and every year it "selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age to run projects based in Europe". Its Synergy Grant is for small groups that overcome the traditional boundaries of disciplines and bring together excellent researchers. (Source: ERC)
With the funding ERC supports the new research project CUBE (official title “Unravelling the secrets of Cu-based catalysts for C-H activation”) that aims to develop a cleaner way to produce chemicals. The interdisciplinary team wants to understand the fundamental mechanistic features of the copper-catalyzed carbon-hydrogen (C-H) activation reaction via a holistic approach, utilizing the expertise of all team members.
ERC Synergy Grants were awarded to 36 other research groups as well.
More about CUBE:
The selective C-H activation of methane is a very important process because it plays an increasing role as a feedstock for the production of energy and chemicals.
The idea of this innovative project is to study different, existing catalytic systems that contributed to this field already in the past and built on this knowledge to develop new ones. Various systems are capable to perform such reactions at different conditions; therefore, it is important to gain insight from biological and synthetic catalysts in parallel. A particular focus will be placed on enzymes, zeolites and metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). Such an approach will result in design principles that will lead to the development of new optimized catalysts, like engineered enzymes or MOFs with controlled functionality, towards C-H activation on a specific substrate.
It is clear such ambitious goal requires multidisciplinary approaches from different field like biochemistry, synthetic chemistry (organic and inorganic), and catalysis (homogenous and heterogeneous) and enzymology. However, designing and developing new systems requires also detailed characterization of their structure, functionality and mechanism. This can be achieved by a combination of advanced spectroscopic methods and computational studies. This synergistic approach is key in the success of the realization of this project.