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 supramolecular properties of small proteins
Aqueous supramolecular chemistry is a highly interdisciplinary research area lying at the interface of organic, physical, and biochemistry. In the Gibb group we study aqueous supramolecular chemistry in two principal ways: 1) we synthesize (model) molecules specifically designed to interact with themselves or other molecular entities through a range of non-covalent interactions, and; 2) we study small proteins to examine how the non-covalent interactions we observe in our models apply to biomacromolecules. These studies provide valuable information regarding the Hydrophobic and Hofmeister effects, and contribute to our understanding of the properties of proteins and enzymes. On a more applied level, we also utilize what we know about non-covalent interactions in water to design yoctoliter (10–24 L) reaction vessels and catalysts, and novel protocols to bring about molecular separations. Such water-based systems offer new and precise ways to manipulate chemicals in environmentally friendly ways. In all projects, we principally use a range of NMR spectroscopic, calorimetric, and light-scattering techniques to probe the systems under study. Combined with UV-vis, Raman, and other spectroscopic techniques, group members have access to a broad range of techniques in their training.