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Pablo Ballester Balaguer

Pablo Ballester Balaguer

Institut Català d'Investigació Química

Experimental Sciences & Mathematics

Pablo Ballester studied Chemistry at the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB) where he also completed the PhD degree in 1986. In 1987 he was post-doctoral Associate with Prof. J. Rebek Jr. at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1988 after a post-doctoral stay at UIB with Porf. J. M. Saá he decided to return to Pittsburgh and moved to MIT in 1989. From 1991 to 2002 he held the positions of Assistant and Associate Professor at UIB and served as Secretary of the Chemistry Department, Vice-dean of the Faculty of Sciences and Head of Studies of Chemistry at UIB. In 2003 and while enjoying a sabbatical leave at the Scripps Research Institute (USA) with the rank of Associate Professor of Research he got an ICREA Research Professorship and joined ICIQ as Group Leader in 2004. He is the recipient of the 2012 Janssen Cilag Organic Chemistry Prize awarded by the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry. From 2016 to 2018, he served as ICIQ Vice-Director for BIST affairs.

Research interests

My scientific background lies in the areas of organic chemistry (making molecules) and supramolecular chemistry (study how molecules fit together). My current research focuses on the design, synthesis, study and characterization of functional molecular aggregates. I consider myself a mixture between a molecular architect and a molecular engineer. We study matter but we also produce matter and new materials. We apply molecular self-assembly processes as a methodology to construct large and functional supramolecular aggregates, i.e. molecular machines, molecular sensing assemblies and devices. A second area of my current interests resides in the design and application of molecular containers. These are molecular or supramolecular structures with an internal cavity sufficiently large to include or encapsulate other molecules. Unfortunately, although we construct monumental and even artistic structures they are not visible to the naked eye due to their reduced nanometer size.

Selected publications

– Escobar, L.; Ballester, P., Molecular Recognition in Water Using Macrocyclic Synthetic Receptors. Chem. Rev. 2021, 121 (4), 2445-2514.

– Sun, Q.; Escobar, L.; Ballester, P., Hydrolysis of Aliphatic Bis-isonitriles in the Presence of a Polar Super Aryl-Extended Calix[4]pyrrole Container. Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 2021, 60 (18), 10359-10365.

– Sierra, A. F.; Aragay, G.; Peñuelas-Haro, G.; Ballester, P., Supramolecular fluorescence sensing of l-proline and l-pipecolic acid. Org. Chem. Front. 2021, 8 (11), 2402-2412.

– Zhu, Y.; Tang, M.; Zhang, H.; Rahman, F.-U.; Ballester, P.; Rebek, J.; Hunter, C. A.; Yu, Y., Water and the Cation−π Interaction. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143 (31), 12397-12403.

– Ferreira, P.; Moncelsi, G.; Aragay, G.; Ballester, P., Hydrogen-Bonded Dimeric Capsules with Appended Spiropyran Units: Towards Controlled Cargo Release. Chem.–Eur. J. 2021, 27 (49), 12675-12685.

– Molina-Muriel, R.; Romero, J. R.; Li, Y.; Aragay, G.; Ballester, P., The effect of solvent on the binding of anions and ion-pairs with a neutral [2]rotaxane. Org. Biomol. Chem. 2021, 19 (45), 9986-9995.

– Sun, Q.; Escobar, L.; de Jong, J.; Ballester, P., Self-assembly of a water-soluble endohedrally functionalized coordination cage including polar guests. Chem. Sci. 2021, 12 (40), 13469-13476.

– Troselj, P.; Bolgar, P.; Ballester, P.; Hunter, C. A., High-Fidelity Sequence-Selective Duplex Formation by Recognition-Encoded Melamine Oligomers. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143 (23), 8669-8678.

– Yang, J.-M.; Chen, Y.-Q.; Yu, Y.; Ballester, P.; Rebek, J., Rigidified Cavitand Hosts in Water: Bent Guests, Shape Selectivity, and Encapsulation. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143 (46), 19517-19524.

Selected research activities

  • Theses supervisor: R. Molina, Q. Sun (PhD-URV). Co-supervisor with Dr. S.Eiden of Q. Bouvier (Industrial PhD-URV)  (COVESTRO, Germany)
  • Member of the Scientific Advisory Board, Institute of Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC), Spain
  • Scientific Collaborator of Agencia Estatal de Investigación (AEI)

ICREA Memoir 2021