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The HIMS groups are organized in four multidisciplinary research themes that cover the fields where in the next decade interesting new developments and important breakthroughs are anticipated: Analytical Chemistry (AC); Computational Chemistry (CC); Molecular Photonics (MP); and Synthesis & Catalysis (SC).

These themes foster the synergy that forwards the design, creation, characterization and understanding of molecular systems, and that enables addressing the current important societal and industrial challenges.

All four themes share molecular sciences as a binding factor, as is reflected in the name of the institute. 

  • Analytical Chemistry

    The HIMS research in the field of Analytical Chemistry focuses on developing or greatly improving analytical techniques and methods, especially in the fields of separation science and applied mass spectrometry. Specific focus is on multi-dimensional separations and “hyphenated systems”, such as LC-MS.

    Separations are crucial for analyzing complex samples and there is prodigious interest from other disciplines and from industry for HIMS' world-leading knowledge.

    Application areas include synthetic polymers, proteins and other natural macromolecules, forensics, art science and food science. Data analysis and optimization ('chemometrics') are essential aspects of the research program.

    The HIMS researchers work closely together with colleagues at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in a number of projects and in the Centre of Analytical Sciences Amsterdam (CASA).

  • Computational Chemistry

    Research in this theme focuses on the development and application of advanced molecular simulation and multiscale modelling methodology to obtain novel and improved understanding of the behaviour of (bio)materials, and of complex (bio)chemical and physical processes that are of technological and scientific importance.

    In particular, the theme focuses on

    • chemical reactions in complex environments;
    • nanoporous materials;
    • biomolecular conformational change and self-assembly in complex environments;
    • soft matter
    • advanced computational methods and machine learning.

    The knowledge gained benefits the design of next-generation materials and processes of technological and industrial importance. Keywords include rare events, first-principles, complexity, multi-scale, large-scale computing and data analysis.

    The Computational Chemistry research at HIMS is part of the Amsterdam Center of Multiscale Modelling (ACMM), a cooperation with the theoretical chemistry group at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Together with the Lorentz Center (Leiden University), the ACMM forms the Dutch node of the Centre Européen de Calcul Atomique et Moléculaire (CECAM).

  • Molecular Photonics

    The interaction of Light and Matter is the domain of this research theme. Light is used to activate molecules and materials and to transform photon energy into mechanical, electrical and chemical energy. The optical properties of molecules and nanocrystals are also used to probe chemical, physical, and biological processes at the molecular level.

    The research focusses on four areas:

    • dynamics of supramolecular and biomolecular systems;
    • light-activated (hybrid) nanomaterials and nanoscale photoprocesses;
    • photochemical energy conversion; and
    • developing novel spectroscopic methods.

    More and more the objects of study are complex, multi-component systems with newly emerging properties that can no longer be described by a conventional (supra)-molecular approach.

    Prime application areas are molecular nanotechnology, (solar) energy conversion processes, sustainability, and chemical analysis. Other relevant target areas are in the health sciences (optimal diagnosis, molecular sensors) and in physics, such as soft matter, and astrochemistry.

    The Molecular Photonics researchers participate in LaserLaB Amsterdam.

  • Synthesis & Catalysis

    This research theme encompasses organic synthesis and all aspects of catalysis, including homogeneous catalysis, heterogeneous catalysis, biocatalysis, organocatalysis, and catalysis engineering. Projects range from fundamental to applied research, with strong valorization aspects.

    The transformation to a sustainable society requires a paradigm shift in chemical technology and a great deal of new knowledge. Renewable energy and the sustainable transformation of (recyclable) materials into products are crucial issues. These multi-dimensional problems are approached through collaborative efforts of the HIMS scientists in the research theme Synthesis & Catalysis. Their combined expertise includes relevant topics such as spectroscopy, (open-shell) organometallic synthesis, computational catalysis, catalysis engineering and inorganic and hybrid materials.

    The theme has a strong international profile, with recognized group leaders and ambitious and enthusiastic young staff. Recently appointed tenure-track staff carry out interdisciplinary research programs in enzymes and biocatalytic processes, characterization of sustainable materials, and fuel-cells and electrochemistry.