Molecular motor

The research program of the Feringa group is focussed on synthetic organic chemistry. Over the years a unique expertise in stereochemistry has been acquired. Inspired by nature's principles of molecular assembly, recognition, transport, motion and catalysis, the goal is to exploit the full potential of synthetic chemistry to create new structures and functions. A major part of the research is directed towards nanotechnology and novel functional materials, such as molecular switches and motors. A second part of the program deals with the development (and application in chemical biology) of novel stereoselective synthesis methods and asymmetric catalysis. Control of chirality is the guiding principle in both programs.

Scientific program of the Feringa group

from molecules to molecular systems

The mission of the research programme in the Feringa group is to exploit the full potential of synthetic chemistry to create new structures, functions and chemical systems. Inspired by Nature's principles of molecular recognition, assembly, catalysis, transport and motion, the goal is to design novel functional (supra-) molecular materials as well as to develop new catalysts and synthetic methodology.


Three major areas of interest can be distinguished:
Molecular Nanoscience: with particular emphasis on the control of dynamics including switches, translational and rotary molecular motors, self-assembly and multifunctional nanosystems (read more).
Synthesis and catalysis: which a focus on the development of asymmetric catalysis, catalytic oxidation and coupling reactions and application of novel catalytic methods in synthesis (read more).
Biohybrid systems: the design of responsive biohybrid materials, artificial membranes, photopharmacology and methodology for biomolecular imaging (read more).

Chirality is a leading theme and over the years a broad expertise in fundamental aspects of chirality has been built including new asymmetric synthesis methodology, chiroptical phenomena, chiral amplification, and dynamic and supramolecular chirality. The research in the group has a strong multidisciplinary character.

Research programs

Subprogram 1

Subprogram 1: Molecular Nanoscience (Center for Systems Chemistry, Gravity program functional molecular systems and top research school Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials). The focus is currently on four major challenges e.g.:

Our systems approach to complex dynamic functions and materials in the past decade and the recent establishment of the Center for Systems Chemistry has greatly stimulated a strong multidisciplinary and cooperative effort at the interphase between chemistry, molecular biology, physics and surface sciences.

Read more: Molecular Nanoscience


Subprogram 2: Synthesis and Catalysis (Center for Sustainable Catalysis, top Netherlands Research School for Catalysis NRSC-C). The following topics are addressed in this subprogram:

Subprogram 2

Read more: Asymmetric catalysis, synthesis and chirality


Subprogram 3: Biohybrid Systems (Center for Systems Chemistry, GBB and UMCG cooperation). Emphasis is on control and/or mimicking of biological function along the following lines:

In a small subprogram fundamental questions are addressed on chiral phenomena with a special emphasis or origin of homochirality (in the context of the European Biogenesis program), chiral amplification and autocatalysis (in the NWO-NSF astrochemistry program).

Subprogram 3