Studying the properties of aqueous-based, supramolecular nano-capsules to identify new and unusual physicochemical phenomena arising through compartmentalization.
Studying the complexation of hosts and guests in aqueous solution to reveal details of the Hydrophobic and Hofmeister Effects.
Studying the formation and switching of assemblies possessing hybrid capsid/micelle-like structures
Aqueous supramolecular chemistry is a highly interdisciplinary research area lying at the interface of organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and biochemistry. In the Gibb group we synthesize new molecules specifically designed to interact with themselves or other molecular entities through a range of non-covalent interactions. Via a range of physical techniques we study both the formation processes leading to the resulting supramolecular entities, and the properties of the entities themselves. In doing so we hope to learn about fundamental phenomena observed in aqueous solution, particularly the Hydrophobic Effect (why oil and water don’t mix) and the Hofmeister Effect (why co-solute salts modulate the solubility of organic solutes). On a more applied level, we also probe the unusual properties of these supramolecular complexes to identify novel applications. Two such examples are their use as yoctoliter (10-24 L) reaction vessels, and their ability to bring about molecular separations.