Description of the four NWO Research Communities (RC) for Chemistry

The NWO research communities work with members in order to have a clear picture of the sub-field in question and to have at their disposal a distribution list for consulting or informing the field.

RC1. Chemical Conversion

Chemical conversion is integral to all disciplines in the chemical sciences and spans a broad range of fields, ranging from fundamental, molecular-level chemistry to large-scale chemical process technology. It is crucial for a sustainable future of our society as it will minimise environmental impact and maximise societal impact through creating and exploiting novel substances and novel transformations, understanding chemical processes and developing improved chemical processes and/or alternatives. Disciplines such as catalysis, process technology and synthesis play a crucial role in building up the scientific and technological basis that allow us to achieve these goals. Due to its diversity, Chemical Conversion becomes a meeting place for chemists, physicists, chemical engineers, and experts in material science and energy technology.

RC2. Chemistry of Life

The research field Chemistry of Life studies and exploits the chemical principles and phenomena that underlie biological processes. The major overall aims in this field are to obtain improved understanding of the molecular mechanisms that enable biomolecules to correctly interact and perform intricate cellular processes, as well as to use biomolecules and principles of biological processes in the design of new chemical systems. Methodological advances are firmly integrated in the research field. It is anticipated that the research with lead to technological and medical applications. Central disciplines within Chemistry of Life are biomolecular and cellular chemistry, structural biology, and areas of analytical, macromolecular and organic chemistry that relate to biological processes.

RC3. Chemistry of Materials

The materials field deals with the design, synthesis, characterisation and performance of materials. Chemistry plays an important role in this field. Organic as well as inorganic chemistry are used to synthesise and modify materials, leading to new properties, and consequently new functionalities. We distinguish structural (e.g. mechanical strength in bulk; adhesion and optics on surfaces) from functional (electronic, catalytic, bioactive, haptic) properties. In great chemical diversity, materials can be understood to be macromolecules (polymers) and assemblies of small molecules or oligomers, but also ceramics, (nano-)composites and organic-inorganic hybrids. Also material components of devices, such as charge injection layers, photovoltaics, and battery electrodes and separators are included in this field. Besides designing materials for energy storage and generation, sustainable production and use of materials, for example bio-based polymers or recycling of plastics is equally important to achieve our society’s climate goals. New are the fields of bioinspired and dynamic materials that mimic various natural morphologies and processes such as (self)healing, and bioactive signaling, and meta-materials in which unique and unusual properties can be designed that cannot be found in nature.

RC4. Fundamentals & Methods of Chemistry

Chemistry is a continuously evolving science, and especially at the interface with physics, biology, computer science and medicine, new sub-disciplines emerge. "Fundamentals and Methods of Chemistry" aims to safeguard the visibility and strength of the existing chemical disciplines, as independent players and as motors of interdisciplinary research, identifying and stimulating the formation of new disciplines. In this context, it is of fundamental importance to develop new conceptual frameworks in both experimental and theoretical disciplines. The rapid advances in models, computational tools and experimental techniques in the full range of the chemical sciences will enable us to study chemical reactions at ever smaller and shorter length and timescales, while at the same time opening up possibilities to study ever larger complex molecular systems. Detailed insight into causal relationships in combination with novel techniques will boost chemists ability to achieve their holy grail: rational design and synthesis of molecules, materials and processes. These advances will allow us to study molecules, matter and living systems at a level of complexity where chemistry can provide the universal and unifying principles.