Rienk Eelkema Lab


Research Topics

Catalytic Control over Soft Materials

By changing the rate of covalent bond formation in self-assembled multicomponent materials using catalysis, we create a handle on the rate of material formation. By changing this rate or by localizing the catalyst, material morphology, properties and distribution can be controlled.


Key papers:
F. Trausel, F. Versluis, C. Maity, J. M. Poolman, M. Lovrak, J. H. van Esch, R. Eelkema; "Catalysis of Supramolecular Hydrogelation" Acc. Chem. Res. 201649, 1440.
C. Maity, W. E. Hendriksen, J. H. van Esch, R. Eelkema, “Spatial Structuring of a Supramolecular Hydrogel using a Visible-light Triggered Catalyst” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 998.
J. Boekhoven, J. M. Poolman, C. Maity, F. Li, L. van der Mee, C. B. Minkenberg, E. Mendes, J. H. van Esch, R. Eelkema, “Catalytic control over supramolecular gel formation” Nature Chem. 20135, 433.

Fuel Driven, Out-of-Equilibrium Assembly

In an attempt to make active materials, we couple the formation and collapse of out-of-equilibrium assembled structures or polymer materials to the consumption of a chemical fuel, allowing the formation of transient structuress, and control over structure formation in time and space.

Collaborators: Jan van Esch (TU Delft), Filip du Prez (Ghent University), Willem Kegel (Utrecht University), Laura Rossi (TU Delft).

Key papers:
S. van Rossum, M. Tena Solstona, J. H. van Esch, R. Eelkema, J. Boekhoven; “Dissipative out-of-equilibrium assembly of man-made supramolecular materials” Chem. Soc. Rev. 2017, 46, 5519−5535
B. van Ravensteijn, W. E. Hendriksen, R. Eelkema, J. H. van Esch, W. K. Kegel; “Fuel-mediated transient clustering of colloidal building blocks” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 9763−9766
J. Boekhoven, W.E. Hendriksen, G. J. M. Koper, R. Eelkema & J. H. van Esch; “Transient Assembly of Active Materials Fueled by a Chemical Reaction” Science 2015, 349, 1075-1079.
R. Eelkema, M. M. Pollard, J. Vicario, N. Katsonis, B. Serrano–Ramon, C. W. M. Bastiaansen, D. J. Broer & B. L. Feringa; “Nanomotor rotates microscale objects” Nature 2006, 440, 163

Materials for controlled release and healthcare applications

We develop new soft materials for controlled release of drugs and other bioactive molecules. These carrier materials include injectable polymer hydrogels based on dynamic covalent crosslinks, and block copolymer surfactants and gels. Targeted, autonomous release can be programmed into these materials by incorporation of functional groups that are responsive to biomarkers, ROS, light or ionizing radiation. 

Main collaborators: Antonia Denkova (TU Delft), Sander van Kasteren (Leiden University)