Organic and Macromolecular Chemistry

The Institute of Organic and Macromolecular Chemistry, led by Alexander J.C. Kuehne, contributes to the research objectives of ZQB by developing novel synthetic strategies towards organic nanoprobes for different imaging modalities, designing building blocks for self-assembling photonic devices and exploring pathways for surface functionalization with biological and synthetic supramolecular recognition motifs.

To achieve this, we integrate heteroatoms into molecular building blocks to control precisely the optical properties of dye molecules or light emitting nanoparticles. We also develop strategies to obtain more complex particle geometries such as core-shell and anisometric shapes to harness electronic coupling effects and energy transfer phenomena between the different materials.

We also investigate material systems, which are composed of hierarchically structured organic and inorganic components to control the modes of excitation and their emission behavior. This way we can produce devices with precisely controlled laser emission as well as biomedical imaging probes with fluorescence in the near infrared spectrum – where the transmission of biological tissue is greatest – or with photoacoustic activity, where the probe emits ultrasound waves that can be detected to generate images with information in three dimensions.

Finally, we develop nature-inspired nanoparticles, which can be degraded by biological entities to dissolve into non-toxic molecular fragments. Either these particles can be used to deliver compounds or particles, which are released in macrophages, or they can be used for imaging with a temporally programmed expiry date. To direct these nanoparticles to their site of action, we attach biological recognition motifs using a variety of efficient coupling chemistries.