Scientific Research Project Title

Frustration in Molecular Tessellations

Research Institution

Danmarks Tekniske Universitet

Department og Chemistry, Technical University of Denmark

Research leader

Kasper Steen Pedersen

Assistant professor

Project title

Frustration in Molecular Tessellations

What is your project about?

The presence of order in the atoms’ positions in a material has decisive importance for the properties of the material. It has therefore been the Holy Grail to tailor materials down to the level of the individual atoms and control how the atoms bind together. In this project we will utilize that molecular “building blocks” are capable of self-assembling into new types of materials. The building blocks, which are designed synthetically, can be considered as polygons, such as triangles, squares, pentagons, etc. When these are combined a mosaic at the molecular level is formed. If different types of polygons are combined, e.g. triangles and squares, it is possible to create materials lacking long-ranging order. Such chaotic structures possess unique properties that are not found in traditional types of materials. Since optical and magnetic properties are critically dependent on the order and symmetry of the material the ensuing properties become frustrated. This situation of atomic-scale irregularity provides a chemical playground for designing genuinely novel magnetic, electronic, and photonic materials properties.

How did you become interested in your particular field of research?

My interest in inorganic chemistry was sparked by highly inspiring mentors during my studies at the University of Copenhagen. Inorganic chemistry deals with all elements of the Periodic System and by using my creativity in the laboratory, combined with more physical disciplines, I can design new materials with genuinely novel properties. This symbiosis between chemistry and adjacent fields such as physics, nanoscience and materials science, continues to excite me.

What are the scientific challenges and perspectives in your project?

Materials are almost universally considered as consisting of a repeating pattern of atoms. However, all materials lack such perfect order in one way or another and this fact has often critical consequences for the material’s functionality. Whilst strategies to control specific materials symmetries are well established, the design of irregular molecular patterns have remained absent. In this project we will develop the first chemical design strategies to tame materials that balance between order and chaos at the molecular level.

What is your estimate of the impact, which your project may have to society in the long term?

The project will provide fundamental insights on chemical design strategies for new, advanced materials based on molecular building blocks. These materials are relevant for future electronics and quantum computing applications and for the development of new light emitting materials. However, our unorthodox approach to materials design could have even broader perspectives.

Which impact do you expect the Sapere Aude programme will have on your career as a researcher?

It is a great honor and recognition of me and my research group's work to receive a Sapere Aude Research Leader grant. The grant will enable a considerable expansion of my research group and our experimental infrastructure, which will make us competitive with the leading groups and laboratories. Furthermore, the grant will enable us to pursue more long-term goals and even larger initiatives.

Background and personal life

I live in North Zealand with my wife, Mie, and our hyperactive dog, Nemo.

City of your current residence


High school

Allerød Gymnasium