Joris Sprakel has received a major grant to study very strong chemical bonds. The title of the project is: "Synthetic Catch Bonds."
The project revolves around something that exists in Nature known as a catch bond. Unlike all chemical bonds available to chemists in their laboratories, which all weaken under mechanical load, these catch bonds become stronger under stress. In the past decade or has become clear that Nature uses them ubiquitously. But how they work an why Nature uses these mysterious bonds so prevelently remains unclear. In this project I will try to understand how catch bonds work, both at a chemical and physical level. Then, we will attempt to create the first synthetic equivalents to explore how this yet elusive mechanical design strategy in Nature can help to improve the mechanics of smart and adaptive bio-mimetic materials in the lab.
In total it will provide jobs for 3 PhD students and 3 postdocs to join me in the search for the meaning of these unusual structures.