ORC-31806 Bio-organic Chemistry at Surfaces: Tuning the Outermost Nanometer


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. LCPM de Smet
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. M Smulders
prof. dr. JT Zuilhof
dr. ir. LCPM de Smet
Examiner(s)dr. ir. LCPM de Smet

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

ORC-20306 Bio-organic Chemistry.


The majority of biological interactions with the external world takes place at a surface. Similarly, in medical diagnostics, analyses typically react at a surface with immobilized receptor molecules, while in e.g. solar energy conversion the overall yield is often determined by the definition of the surface. These examples indicate that the chemical and physical properties of surfaces are vitally important. In upcoming technologies like nanotechnology, the properties of surfaces are only becoming more important, due to the increasingly high surface area-to-volume ratio.
This course deals with the (bio-organic) chemistry of surfaces: attaching molecules onto a surface, showing that attachment was successful, and doing something highly useful with it. Subjects that will be treated in this course are:
- polymerization reactions, with a focus on controlled radical polymerization. These type of reactions are very useful for covalent modification of surfaces and for the preparation of nano- and microstructures with defined and controlled surface properties (as used in drug delivery);
- chemical modification of surfaces and biofunctionalization through modern 'click' reactions;
- analytical methods for characterization of surfaces through techniques like contact angle measurements, AFM, STM, XPS;
- preparation and characterization of inorganic, polymeric and dendritic nanoparticles, with an eye to their applications in diagnostics, medicine, drug delivery, etc.;
- preparation and characterization of micro- and nanotechnological devices via a top-down engineering approach.
In the practical course illustrative experiments are performed with controlled polymer synthesis, (bio-)chemically modified surfaces. Furthermore, dendrimers, will be prepared by 'click' reactions and investigated with different advanced techniques and instruments. The theoretical background of these experimental techniques will also be treated. Finally, recent literature on related research topics will be discussed.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- define key concepts from the course related to bio-organic surface chemistry;
- describe reaction mechanisms covered in the course (on polymer and dendrimer synthesis, click reactions, surface reactions, nanoparticle synthesis), and to apply these reactions in the design of new structures and surfaces;
- propose preparation methods of various surface-related structures, like dendrimers, polymersomes, (bio-)active surfaces, nanoparticles and micro- and nanotechnological devices; and describe how the structure properties lead to specific (bio-)applications;
- explain the working principle of presented characterization methods; analyze and evaluate results of these methods, and design characterization experiments;
- understand how organic reactions occur at a surface or interface and how these reactions operate differently at a surface compared to in bulk solution;
- perform experiments related to polymer and dendrimer synthesis, and to surface chemistry; as well as investigate the formed structures using various experimental techniques;
- prepare a practical report in which experimental results and appropriate theory are combined;
- critically evaluate literature on topics covered during the course and present and defend this evaluation to other students.


- attend lectures;
- study the course material (reader);
- make exercises;
- critically evaluate a topical research paper and present your assessment;
- perform illustrative experiments and write a critical report in which the relation between theory and practice is adequately described.


- the final mark is determined by the exam (67%);
- the performance during the practical course and the quality of the report (33%).
The minimum mark for each part is 5.50. The marks for the individual parts of the course will remain valid for 3 years.


A study guide and the study material will be made available in the form of a reader.

Restricted Optional for: MMLMolecular Life SciencesMScA: Biomedical Research6AF
MMLMolecular Life SciencesMScD: Physical Chemistry6AF
MMLMolecular Life SciencesMScB: Biological Chemistry6AF