We are creating and exploring nano-reaction chambers as catalysts for substrate and product selective reactions. Such functional modules will be the basis for the construction of molecular factories.
The successful creation of a molecular factory relies on the delicate interplay of all its subcomponents. To avoid undesired cross-reactivity, the subcomponents have to display high substrate selectivity. One way to achieve substrate selectivity is the utilization of nano-reaction chambers, which due to their limited cavity volume only convert molecules of suitable size.
Beside substrate selectivity, nano-reaction chambers also provide product selectivity. Due to the restricted environment inside the catalyst, the substrate conformation is influenced, which can lead to different products than in a regular solution experiment. Additionally, weak interactions between the host and the guest molecule can influence the reaction pathway.
As a first step towards molecular factories, we will investigate multi-catalyst tandem reactions utilizing two or more nano-reaction chambers. Natural enzymes will be combined with man-made nano-reaction chambers to obtain novel reactivity.