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Molecular recognition and host-guest interactions play a key role in a variety of chemical and biological processes including chemical sensing, drug delivery, chemical and enzymatic catalysis, and chemical separations.

This Center focuses on the exploration of the fundamental science and engineering necessary for designing nanoscale materials for molecular recognition. The basic premise is that nanoscopic hosts can be linked (covalently or noncovalently) to polymeric/dendritic scaffolds or "soft" multimolecular assemblies to develop a new generation of efficient and cost effective nanoscale materials with molecular recognition capability for metal ions, organic compounds, and bioactive molecules/macromolecules of importance to the chemical, pharmaceutical, biomedical, and environmental industries.

Research activities in the Center are both basic and applied. The basic component includes the synthesis and characterization of the new materials, and explores the development and validation of a computer-aided molecular design (CAMD) framework for identification of novel target nanomaterials with molecular recognition capability. The applied component consists of bench scale evaluation of the performance of the new materials as sensors, drug delivery vehicles, and separation media for water treatment. The research is structured around the following thrust areas:

  • Molecular recognition sites
  • Nonporous and porous polymeric surfaces
  • Dendritic nanoparticles
  • Nanocharacterization of surfaces
  • Modeling and simulation

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