Fri, 03 January, 2020
Dr Charlotte D. Vacogne is a polymer chemist with a background in interdisciplinary research and expertise spanning from synthetic and physical chemistry to materials science. She graduated in 2017 from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (MPIKG) and the University of Potsdam with a PhD on ‘New Synthetic Routes Towards Well-Defined Polypeptides, Morphologies and Hydrogels’.
One of her research projects, born from a collaboration between the Tauer Group (MPIKG) and the Schlaad group (University of Potsdam), focused on the synthesis of a new generation of bio-inspired particles with a self-assembled and hierarchical helical morphology. Helical and hierarchical structures are ubiquitous in biological materials (e.g., cellulose and collagen) and often serve a structural purpose, which led to studies attempting to mimic such materials gaining considerable attention, despite the task being notoriously challenging.
The work conducted by Dr Vacogne and published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society in 2018 (DOI: 10.1021/jacs.8b06503) is the first example of hierarchically self-assembled and helical bio-based particles synthesized by a simple direct emulsification process. The study, which used synthetic polypeptides as the emulsified biopolymers, demonstrated that the conformation of the latter at the nanoscopic scale (i.e., right- and left-handed α-helices) controlled the microscopic morphology of the particles they self-assembled into (i.e., right- and left-handed spirals).
Her work recently received an accolade from the German Chemical Society (GdcH), when it was reported in ‘Trends in Macromolecular Chemistry’ (Nachrichten aus der Chemie, 67, October 2019).