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Directed Assembly Network © 2010-2020 & Beyond

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Directed Assembly Network Beyond the Molecule

Directed Assembly Network

In this Grand Challenge we aim to gain unprecedented control of the assembly of molecules that are the building blocks of many functional materials, consumer and industrial products. The Network aims to accelerate and form a focus for this process.

We start by understanding the assembly of the very small, but methods we explore will allow production of new types of useful materials at a whole range of length scales from the nano-scale to the everyday.

Such materials will have outstanding impact in areas of societal importance such as personalised healthcare and food production, transport systems and fuel production, housing construction and consumer electronics.


Prof Paul Raithby

PI 2010-2016

Co-I 2017-2020

Prof Harris Makatsoris

PI 2017-2020

Co-I 2010-2016

Network Themes & Streams

To continuously develop and nurture an environment for the research community that extends beyond Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, to establish multi-disciplinary collaborations, influence national research agendas and facilitate progress towards addressing the Directed Assembly Grand Challenge.



The Directed Assembly Network launched in October 2010 and was tasked with developing a Roadmap from across all relevant disciplines, from industry and other end-users, to determine where areas of excitement were in this field and to draw up how research might progress over the next 50 years.

We were also tasked with enabling collaborative research by bringing people together to share knowledge and discuss areas of common interest.

In the two years following our launch we organised 13 community meetings attended by hundreds of participants, as well as participating in many other meetings organised by other groups.

Through those events and other feedback we’ve captured the thoughts of the community on future developments. The outcome of that is our research roadmap.

2017 Edition - A Roadmap to Innovation

2012 Edition

Network Members

Over 1,000 academic and industry members from across the UK.

We connect researchers in academia and in industry, across and between all relevant disciplines, to inspire new collaborative research programmes which work towards our aims and to identify and remove barriers, whether scientific or logistic, that stand in the way of achieving these goals.

Grand Challenges

The Network is sponsored by EPSRC to best determine how the field of Directed Assembly can develop strategically over the next 50 years. The science itself is boundary-crossing, reaching beyond traditional discipline-based limits, both in the fundamentals it draws upon and in its wide-ranging impact.

Developing a deeper understanding of assembly processes is vital for creation of new materials of great importance, from pharmaceuticals and food-products to catalysts and super-conductors. We are working closely with industrial end-users of our research to ensure our game-changing science is put to use in meeting the challenges UK industry faces.


Our interests in biological and biomimetic systems have synergies with the work of the Synthetic Components Network, applications in the development of medical devices and great impact in the field of human health, hence we also look to take part in collaborative activities with scientists sponsored by BBSRC and MRC.


We have several volunteer speakers willing to discuss the work we do and we can give presentations at many levels:

In consultation with the research community, the Network Management Team focused its activities into five scientific themes:

  1. Controlling the assembly of designed molecular frameworks and hybrid materials with targeted properties.

  2. Controlling nucleation and crystallisation processes.

  3. Controlling molecular self-assembly in biological and biomimetic systems.

  4. Controlling surface-based molecular self-assembly for applications in interface science.

  5. Developing self-optimised chemical systems through self-evolution.

These themes should not be seen as stand-alone; in many cases the research in a theme ‘cross-fertilises’ with that of others.

The Network has developed and evolved, based upon the findings and inputs of the community, to expand and incorporate those working in all three of the following ‘Challenge Streams’:

  1. Directed Assembly
  2. Directed Disassembly
  3. Translation and scale-up

Read more in the Roadmap to Innovation

The Network Management Team is made up of the:

Principal Investigator, Co-Investigator and Network Manager. The Network is also led by the Network Champions that make up the: Core Team, Early Career Researcher Panel and Advisory Committee.

Leadership Team

Network Aim Themes Leadership Roadmap Members Grand Challenge Outreach