A topic which applies physical chemistry in a medical field is currently being researched at Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter. The goal of this research is to design de novo proteins for the encapsulation of nucleotide strands such as DNA. The binding of these proteins occurs through electrostatic interactions in the major groove of the DNA. The protein can then be self-assembled on the DNA template by DNA-protein and protein-protein interactions. The formed protein-DNA fibres are eventually visualised by the atomic force microscope (AFM). These protein-DNA fibres show promising application in the medical field as vaccins.
Organic and Physical Chemistry – MML specialisation ‘Physical Chemistry’
The Laboratory of Physical Chemistry and Organic Chemistry collaborate to improve the characteristics of plastic, making it tougher but still easy to process in a sustainable way. Recent work focuses on Dynamic Polymer Networks. These are formed with monomers that link and cross-link via strong, yet reversible bonds. The reversible links in these polymers combine the useful features of thermoplastics and thermosets. Dynamic Polymer Networks show interesting additional new properties, like phase separation and self-healing properties! This cutting-edge field of research not only requires organic synthesis of these new plastics but also an array of spectroscopic techniques to examine its characteristics.
Physical chemistry and Soft Matter - MML specialisation ‘Physical Chemistry’
The Laboratory of Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter focuses on the physical-chemical properties of materials and how these could be manipulated to assemble complex new materials with desired properties. For example, de novo proteins for the encapsulation of nucleotide strands such as DNA were designed. Through electrostatic interactions these proteins bind in the major groove of the DNA (A). The formation of these protein-DNA fibres can be visualised using cryo-electron microscopy and particle picking (B). A promising application of these protein-DNA fibres lies in the field of immunology. Viral proteins (antigens) can be displayed on the protein-DNA fibre at high order and density and may therefore contribute to the production of novel, efficient vaccines (C).
For this specialisation, you need to choose at least two deepening courses, however you can always choose more if you want to. All details can be found in the study handbook, but some characteristic courses of this specialisation are shortly explained below:
The development of molecular sciences for materials, food and health critically depends on comprehensive and non-invasive product characterisation. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is probably the most widely applied analytical method with applications in e.g. analytical chemistry, structural biology, physical characterisation of solid materials, imaging of tissues, organs and organisms, metabolomics, and transport processes in porous (bio)materials.
In this course a generalised form will be introduced to analyse and understand diverse classes of modern NMR and MRI experiments.
Thesis Research Groups
The MSc thesis forms the core of your specialisation, reflected in the value of 36 ECTS. Your thesis will be part of the research of one of the chair groups of Wageningen University. The research groups that offer thesis projects within this specialisation are listed below, and you can get more details on their respective websites.