We are a young research group based at the Department of Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen. The research is largely hypothesis and curiosity driven and employs the principles of chemistry to address questions of importance in chemistry, biology and materials science.
The main tools used in our research are synthetic organic chemistry and a number of spectroscopic techniques.
Bachelor projects, master projects and PhD projects can be performed in the group. A degree in synthetic chemistry leaves students well equipped for careers in a wide array of academic positions, the pharmaceutical industry and in the chemical industry in general.
Synthesis, Supramolecular Chemistry and Dynamic Combinatorial Chemistry
The research is centered around (organic) synthesis and supramolecular chemistry.
Dynamic combinatorial chemistry
We are interested in developing and using dynamic combinatorial chemistry to discover new and unorthodox receptors for small molecules and (bio)macromolecules. The concept is illustrated in the scheme below with LEGO building blocks. The building blocks are connected via reversible chemical bonds and the constitution of the dynamic combinatorial library can be manipulated by binding of a template. This can be used to perform a very elegant three step procedure - synthesis, selection and amplification of a receptor for the template - all in one step.
We are looking for new chemical reactions that make dynamic combinatorial chemistry possible in aqueous media with the aim of templating biologically relevant compounds. A typical project in this field involves a large amount of chemical synthesis and analysis of the discovered complexes.
New receptors for supramolecular chemistry
The design and synthesis of new types of receptors for supramolecular chemistry, with a focus on molecular recognition in aqueous media, is being pursued. We are currently looking at receptors that resemble calixarenes and cucurbiturils.
Our most recent example of this is the anion templated synthesis of Biotinuril - a cyclic 6+6 hexamer of Biotin and formaldehyde:
This macrocycle binds anions in water. Here is the X-ray crystal structure of the macrocycle as a co-crystal with NaI, showing that the iodide ion is situated in the center:
Both the development of new types of reactions, optimised protocols for known substrates and new uses of know reagents are of interest. Often the new reactions and methodologies stems from our other research. At present we are particularly interested in rearrangement reactions involving selenium for the preperation of aryl-selenols and in protecion group chemistry of selenocysteine. These types of chemisties are important for dynamic combinatorial chemistry and for advances in bioorganic chemistry.
Our most recent example of this is the development of the seleno Newman-Kwart rearrangement, described in Angewandte Chemie:
Heterocyclic circulenes and helicenes
In this project we explore the reactivity of benzoquinones and hydroquinones for the preperation of large heterocyclic compounds: tetraoxacirculenes. These compounds are interesting for studies of aromaticity (and antiaromaticity) as well as for their properties in materials chemistry (light emmitting devices, liquid crystals and more). We are also exploring synthetic strategies for nitrogen containing(and other heteroatoms) analogs of the heterocyclic circulenes. This is exemplified by our recent synthesis of azatrioxacirculenes.
We are aiming to use the heterocyclic circulenes as scaffolds in supramolecular chemistry, to explore them as ligands for biomacromolecules and to study the aromaticity/antiaromaticity of the planar cyclooctatetrenes by suitable substitution. We are also working to extend the synthetic methodology to enable us to prepare heterocyclic helicenes.
New NIR absorbers - Invisible dyes
In this project we design and synthesise new types of organic near infrared (NIR) absorbers, that ideally are completely colourless. This is an attractive feature for a number of applications, one being in laser welding of plastic materials. If the NIR dye is incorporated into a transparent the NIR dye can be used to absorb th elight from a NIR laser. We collaborate with industrial partners (Coloplast A/S, Novo-Nordisk A/S, The Danish Technological Institute, FORCE technology and Sun Chemical A/S) on this project. Below the UV/Vis/NIR spectra of a commercial absorber (blue) for laser welding of polyethylene is shown together with one of our new absorbers (colourless).
Group members (June 2017)
- Assoc. Prof. Michael Pittelkow
- Assoc. Prof. Fadhil S. Kamounah
- Postdoc Martin D. Kilde
- PhD student Line M. Langhorn
- PhD student Bodil Lousen
- Msc student Frederik Kuhlmann Dietre
- MSc student Kasper H. Hansen
- MSc student Stefan S. Warthegau
- MSc student Michelle Pedersen
- BSc student Adrian Gjetnes Rossebø
- BSc student Andreas Gommesen Nilsson
- BSc student Cecilie Rindom
- BSc student Morten Svaerke Lang Zimmermann
- BSc studen Anders Beier
- BSc studen Iben Jensen
General Research Opportunities
If you are a committed, creative and talented scientist/student you are welcome to get in touch or come and see me at the H. C. Ørsted institute. My office is in the B-building in room 310.
Bachelor projects (third year project) are continuously available in the group. Interested bachelor research students are advised to get in touch as far in advance as possible.
Master (speciale, fourth/fifth year) projects are continuously available in the group. It is not necessary to have performed your bachelor project in the group, but it is not a disadvantage.
Specific PhD positions will be advertised when funding is available from external funding agencies. If you are interested in doctoral studies in the group then please get in touch as early as possible. An application typically consist of a CV, a cover letter, and reference letters from academic mentors who know your work (if you are not already from the group).
PhD positions are available each year from the faculty of science, usually with starting dates in May (applications usually due 15th February) and November (applications usually due 15th August). Information about graduate studies at the University of Copenhagen is available from the university website.
Please send a CV, a cover letter and letter(s) of reference from academic mentors who know your work. Specific postdoctoral positions will be advertised when funding is available. Suitably qualified candidates are invited to get in touch at any time. Please leave enough time to work out a strategy for funding from national or international funding organisations.
Summer Students/Undergraduate Students
We can sometimes accommodate talented and motivated undergraduates during the summer vacation period or during the semester. Work is carried out under the guidance of an experienced doctoral or postdoctoral group member in the context of an ongoing project. Please contact me if this has your interest.
Most projects in the group are of experimental character (synthesis, analysis and spectroscopy), and it is necessary to have attended a minimum of experimental courses before lab work can commence in the group. From time to time non-experimental projects will be available; please come and see me if this has your interest!
- Danish research council - Sapere Aude (2015-2019): From dynamc combinatorial chemistry to applications in bioorganic chemistry.
- Højteknologifonden (2013-2017): InDyWeld - Invisible dyes for laser welding of plastic.
- Cost network CM1304 (2013-2017): Systems chemistry.
- Lundbeckfonden (2010-2015): Dynamic combinatorial chemistry in water.
- Cost network (2011-2014): Supramolecular chemistry in water.
- Det strategiske forskningsråd (2009-2013): NIR absorbers for laser welding.
- FNU: Steno fellowship (2008-2012): Dynamic combinatorial chemistry.
- FNU: Postdoc fellowship (2006-2008): Dynamic combinatorial chemistry.
- University of Copenhagen: PhD fellowship (2003-2006): Supramolecular chemistry with dendrimers.
Collaborators in industry:
Danish Technological Institute.
Sun Chemical A/S.
Michael Pittelkow was born in 1977 and raised in Brøndby Strand, near Copenhagen. He attended Brøndby Strand skole and Ishøj gymnasium before studying chemistry at the University of Copenhagen. At the University of Copenhagen he received his PhD degree in 2006. During his studies he spent extended periods in Australia (CSIRO in Melbourne), The Netherlands (The Technical University of Eindhoven) and England (Cambridge University). He undertook postdoctoral studies in the UK (Cambridge University) before moving back to Denmark to start as an adjunkt (assistant professor) at the department of chemistry, University of Copenhagen in November 2008. In 2012 he became a permanent adjunkt and in 2013 he became associate professor (lektor) at the same department. His research interests include organic synthesis, physical organic chemistry, dendrimers and supramolecular chemistry.
Education and Work Experience
Associate Professor (Lektor), Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. February 2013-.
Assistant Professor (Adjunkt), Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, from November 2012-February 2013.
Assistant Professor (Adjunkt) financed by a Steno fellowship (FNU Fellowship), Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, from November 2008-November 2012.
Postdoctoral Fellow with Professor Jeremy K. M. Sanders, (FNU Postdoctoral Fellowship), Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, UK. November 2006-November 2008.
Doctoral Student (PhD) with Associate Professor Jørn B. Christensen, Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. PhD awarded November 2006. During this time six months was spend in the research group of Professor Jeremy K. M. Sanders at the Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, UK.
Master Student, Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. Master project advisor: Associate Professor Jørn B. Christensen. During this time six months was spend in the research group of Professor E. W. Meijer at the Technical University of Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
Bachelor Student, Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. Bachelor project advisor: Associate Professor Jørn B. Christensen Worked for six months in the research group of PhD Kevin Winzenberg in the molecular science group at CSIRO in Melbourne, Australia.
Student, Ishøj Amtsgymnasium, Denmark.
Primary school (folkeskole), Brøndby Strand skole, Denmark.
Awards and Honours
‘Lundbeckfondens Talentpris’ 2008, Awarded to scientists under the age of 30.
'Teacher of the year' 2015, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen.
'Ellen and Niels Bjerrums Kemikerpris' 2016.
Major personal grants:
PhD fellowship (2003)
FNU Postdoc (2006)
FNU Steno fellowship (2008)
Lundbeck young investigator (2010)
DFF Sapere Aude (research leader) (2014)