Leiden Institute of Chemistry
The chemical industry must continue to innovate for a more sustainable, healthier society. The reseachers from the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC) contribute by applying their knowledge to themes such as sustainability, energy and health.
The LIC researchers’ work is based on their fundamental curiosity. They are free to work on their own, unique ideas, which enables them to seek and find solutions to problems in chemistry. This freedom results in groundbreaking ideas; this is apparent from the researchers’ ability to secure personal grants, both national and European.
Theory and experiments
What characterises the chemistry research at Leiden is the link between theory and method. Good models support experiments, and theoretical models explain the results of experiments. This approach is used within two themes: ‘Chemical Biology’ and ‘Energy and Sustainability.’
Within the theme of ‘Chemical Biology,’ the researchers take a chemical approach to finding solutions to biology issues. One example is the study of the biological processes behind disease. The researchers want to gain a better molecular understanding of the biological processes that lead to diseases such as hereditary disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. Our chemists consequently work closely with the LUMC and other institutes within the Faculty of Science, such as LACDR.
The expertise of the Institute attracts the attention of businesses that are active in drug development. These are particularly interested in the methods developed by Leiden researchers to study biological processes in sickness and in health, also in the presence of potential medicines. They hope to be able to speed up the process of drug development, but also to develop new, precise diagnostic methods.
Sustainable approach to energy and chemical processes
Within the theme of ‘Energy and Sustainability,’ the LIC researchers want to develop new materials and processes that are needed for the transition from fossil fuels to sustainable alternatives to both energy and chemical products. The focus includes the development of catalysts for CO2 reduction, splitting water to produce hydrogen as a sustainable fuel and converting organic compounds into more complex compounds without producing any waste. This last part of the research is important to making the chemical industry more sustainable.
The LIC researchers see hydrogen and CO2 as important alternative energy carriers. Hydrogen could be used as a fuel for cars, for instance, and hydrocarbons as a raw material for the chemical industry. Within this research, and in collaboration with the big chemistry and energy companies, electrolysis (chemical reaction under an electric current) is used to reduce water as efficiently as possible to hydrogen, and CO2 to hydrocarbons. This example shows that curiosity-driven and applied research are part of one and the same knowledge chain.