Roeland J.M. Nolte

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Roeland J.M. Nolte
Born (1944-12-16) December 16, 1944 (age 78)
Bergh, Gelderland, The Netherlands
  • Ruimzicht Gymnasium
  • University of Utrecht (Master's, Ph.D.)
  • Member of the Royal Belgian Academy of Science (2000)
  • Eli Burstein Lecturer in Materials Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (2003)
  • First Royal Academy of Science Professorshipl (2003)
  • Order of the Netherlands Lion (2004) Cornforth lectureship at the University of Sydney (2005)
  • Izatt-Christensen Award (2006)
  • Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Science (2006)
  • Merck-Karl Pfister Lecturer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2007)
  • Member of the Academia Europaea (2013)
  • Twice a prestigious ERC Advanced grant (2017)
  • Linstead Life-time Achievement Award (2018)
Scientific career
  • Organic chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Supramolecular chemistry
  • Polymer chemistry
InstitutionsRadboud University Nijmegen
ThesisSynthesis and isomerization of polyisocyanates (1973)
Doctoral advisorWiendelt Drenth
Other academic advisorsDonald J. Cram

Roeland J.M. Nolte (born 1944) is a Dutch scientist, who worked in many fields of science, e.g. organic chemistry, biochemistry, supramolecular chemistry, and polymer chemistry. He is an emeritus Royal Netherlands of Arts and Sciences professor[1][2]and an emeritus professor of Organic Chemistry at Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Currently, he holds special chair of professor of Molecular Nanotechnology there. Nolte is considered one of the pioneers of supramolecular chemistry, which encompasses the design and synthesis of new chemical structures from low molecular weight compounds and (bio)polymers using so-called non-covalent interactions. He published many studies on supramolecular assembly and biomimetic catalysts, which find applications in the field of (nano)materials and medicine.[3][4][5]


Roeland Nolte attended Gymnasium Ruimzicht in Doetinchem, where he graduated in 1963. Thereafter, he studied chemistry at the University of Utrecht, where he received his Master degree in 1969.[6] He continued his studies at the same university, earning a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry on the synthesis and properties of a new type of polymer in 1973 (supervisor Wiendelt Drenth).[7] After a postdoctoral stage with Nobel laureate Donald J. Cram he joined the Faculty of Science of Utrecht University as an Assistant Professor.[6]


Nolte started his career as an Assistant Professor at the University of Utrecht and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1979.[6] In 1987 he moved to Radboud University in Nijmegen as a Full Professor of Organic Chemistry.[6] Nolte was appointed Adjunct Professor of Supramolecular Chemistry at the Eindhoven University of Technology in 1994.[6] In 2002 he became the first director of the new Institute for Molecules and Materials at Radboud University in Nijmegen, which he remained until his retirement in 2010.[6] In honour of his contributions to science he was awarded a special Royal Netherlands Acadamy of Arts and Science Professorship in 2003.[1][2]Nolte retired in 2010 after which he received a special University professorship in Molecular Nanotechnology at Radboud University, which he still holds.[8]


Roeland Nolte approaches science as an artist. He designs a variety of chemical structures, usually by first synthesizing molecular building blocks of different shapes and properties, which he allows to self-assemble in a second step to form functional structures.[2][9] Self-assembly takes place by a combination of weak (supramolecular) interactions, such as hydrogen bonding, pi-pi-stacking interactions, van der Waals interactions, and coordination bonds.[5] The designed structures find applications in the fields of materials science and catalysis. Often Nature is used as a source of inspiration. Examples include strain-stiffening polymers from isocyanopeptides, artificial cells from polymer-protein block-copolymers, electron-conducting supramolecular polymers from crown ether phthalocyanines, and the use of viruses for the development of nanomaterials.[9][10][11] More recently, he developed a synthetic catalyst that can move along DNA and cleave it.[12] He furthermore designs molecular machines that can encode digital information into single polymer chains in the form of chiral chemical groups. [2][13][14]


Roeland Nolte received numerous lecture awards,[6] such as the Cornforth lectureship at the University of Sydney,[6] the Eli-Burnstein lectureship at the University of Pennsylvania,[15] and the Merck-Carl Pfister visiting professorship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [16] and won several prizes, including the first Royal Academy of Science Professorship (2003),[1] the Izatt-Christensen Award (2006) for his studies on Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry,[17] and the Linstead Life-time Achievement Award for his pioneering work on supramolecular phthalocyanine systems.[18] He was furthermore awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society.[19] After his retirement he twice received twice an ERC Advanced Grant to study the encoding of information into polymers by supramolecular catalytic machines.[20][21]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Nieuws, achtergronden en columns van de Volkskrant". de Volkskrant.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Mini-mini-machientjes bouwen met moleculen - Liesbeth Koenen".
  3. Mosher, Dave (February 27, 2012). "Video: First Nanorockets Might Shuttle Drugs, Robo-Surgeons" – via
  4. "Herbert Blankesteijn, Katalyserende knijpers en moleculaire vazen, NRC, 17 maart 1994".
  5. 5.0 5.1 "'Voorlopig zie ik nog geen kans' | C2W".
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 "Academy of Europe: Nolte Roeland".
  7. "Roeland J.M. Nolte, Synthese en isomerisatie van polyisocyaniden (Synthesis and isomerization of polyisocyanides), thesis Utrecht 1973".
  8. "Retirement interview with Roeland Nolte" (PDF).
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Roeland Nolte explains the philosophy of his work. Video recording of interview on May 6-2011".
  10. "Technology Noviogel | Noviocell".
  11. "Prof.dr. R.J.M. (Roeland) Nolte (".
  12. "Chemists slide a splitting catalyst over DNA for the first time".
  13. Schoonen, Willem (February 10, 2018). "Alle data van de wereld op een draadje plastic". Trouw.
  14. Sprundel, Mariska van. "Bekijk: "Het is mijn droom een moleculaire computer in elkaar te zetten"". NEMOKennislink.
  15. "Past Burstein & Maddin Series Lectures".
  16. "MIT Annual report 2006-2007" (PDF).
  17. "Izatt-Christensen Award Recipients | Chemistry".
  18. "Society of Porphyrins & Phthalocyanines".
  19. "Honorary members - KNCV English".
  20. "Chemist Roeland Nolte receives his second ERC Advanced grant". Deutsch | Studieren in Nimwegen.
  21. "Het geheim van een geleerde op leeftijd". Vox magazine. March 31, 2017.

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