Fred Brouwer uses light to drive and study chemical reactions. His research into light-driven molecular machines is highly successful. By experimenting with the use of molecules as luminescent ‘nano-spies’, Brouwer provides insight into the specific properties of materials such as polymers. In cooperation with physicists, he uses such molecules to measure the forces between particles at a high degree of spatial resolution.
Within the context of the BioSolar Cells national programme, Brouwer also performs research into the storage of solar energy in the form of fuels. This particular research also plays a prominent part in Solardam, an initiative in which physicists and chemists from the UvA, VU University Amsterdam and FOM Institute AMOLF have joined forces to strengthen research into the utilisation of solar energy. Although in theory artificial photosynthesis can be far more efficient than photosynthesis in plants, it is a huge challenge to make such a complex system work in a stable and efficient manner. This is why this particular subject will feature prominently on Brouwers’ research agenda in the years to come.
Brouwer has worked at the UvA’s Chemistry department since 1987, first as a university lecturer and, since 1993, as a senior university lecturer. From 2006 until 2011 he also served as professor by special appointment of Molecular Spectroscopy. In 2008 he won the European Union’s Descartes Prize. In 2009 he served as visiting professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan. Brouwer participates in committees and projects of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), and is a member of the editing board of the International Journal of Spectroscopy. He has written numerous articles in such scientific journals as Science, Angewandte Chemie and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).