22 May 2014

Magnetochemist drawn into the Royal Academy


The Royal Academy is the most prestigious assembly of Danish researchers. It has now admitted Department of Chemistry Professor Jesper Bendix into its hallowed halls.

Metal in molecules central to elektronics and biology

Jesper Bendix is an inorganic chemist specializing in single-molecules with magnetic properties, and in the activation of molecules by interactions with metal cores. Magnetic molecules may prove pivotal in the development of the next generation of computer calculation, quantum computing. The activation of these metal-cored molecules is also important to understand because they hold the key to a wide range of significant biological and catalytic processes.

Modular chemical synthesis

Besides analysing known molecules, Bendix constructs new ones from the ground up. Unfortunately, building a molecule with all the right properties is far from a breeze. Therefore, together with his research group, Bendix attempts to develop an approach to piece together molecular modules like Lego bricks. Bendix explains:

"It is a common misconception that molecules are something that chemists simply whip up!

Jesper Bendix


Department of Chemistry

University of Copenhagen

"It is a common misconception that molecules are something that chemists simply whip up. But in my line of chemistry, it is quite a trek from the molecule on a drawing board to the one in a flask.

Strengthening the standing of Science in Denmark

The Royal Academy has roughly 250 foreign members and about the same number of Danes. The Academy only admits between six and nine new members to each group every year. The Academy works to strengthen the standing of science in Denmark. It attempts to do so by formulating statements about areas of research policy, as well as by promoting interdisciplinary understanding.

Meetings across national borders and academic boundaries

Just over half of its members are natural science researchers. The rest are researchers in the humanities. Meeting with researchers from far-flung fields is something that Bendix looks very much forward to.

“I expect to be inspired by the manners of thought prevalent in other fields and to learn more about the views of others regarding science. Furthermore, I hope that my curiosity about new subjects and those who burn for what they do is piqued and nourished,” explains Bendix.

Currently, there are seven other UCPH chemists in the Royal Academy, including Department of Chemistry Head Mikael Bols. The Royal Academy was founded in 1742 and HM Queen Margrethe II of Denmark is the Academy’s patroness.