Guillaume De Bo


Personal profile


In 2004 Guillaume obtained a Master in Chemistry from the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium). He did his master thesis under the supervision of Prof István E. Markó on the development of platinum-based catalysts for the hydrosilylation of alkynes. He completed his PhD in 2009, in the same laboratory, working on the synthesis of angular triquinanes. He then took a post-doctoral position in the laboratory of Prof Jean-François Gohy and Charles-André Fustin (UCL, Belgium) to work on the assembly of mechanically-linked block copolymers. In 2011, he joined the group of Prof David A. Leigh, then in Edinburgh, to work on the development of molecular machines.

In 2015 he was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship held at the University of Manchester to investigate the use of mechanical force in synthesis. He was promoted to Professor of Organic Chemistry in 2022.

Research interests

Mechanical force is a formidable, and relatively unexplored, source of energy that, with its ability to distort, bend and stretch chemical bonds, is unique in the way it activates chemical reactions. The precise control of this force could revolutionise how we build and rearrange molecular structures and change the way we think about chemical transformations. Precise control of this force can be achieved when the chemical entity that is the subject of the mechanical force (a “mechanophore”) is embedded within a polymeric backbone. Indeed, pulling both ends of a macromolecule apart creates highly directional strain with its highest intensity in the middle of the chain. The aim of our research is to design, synthesize and study new mechanophores that can catalytically harness mechanical energy to induce unusual chemical transformations.


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