Giulio Ragazzon, group leader of the Laboratory of Driven Chemical Processes, has secured an ERC Starting grant for the research project KI-NET – “Energy transduction in kinetically asymmetric catalytic networks’. When we open a bottle of sparkling water, the gas bubbles come out and never return to the bottle. This process has a preferential direction, and it is difficult to make the reverse process take place under the same conditions. Likewise, chemical reactions have a preferential direction. The reactions that form the basis of today’s chemical technology proceed in tha spontaneous direction. However, living systems can also perform chemical reactions in the reverse, non-spontaneous, direction. These processes are used to produce the chemical energy that our body uses, for example, to walk and read these words. The project KI-NET aims to reproduce the chemical reactions that our bodies use to produce energy in artificial systems. Learning how to perform these reactions can open up new avenues across disciplines, including medicine. Indeed when our cells cannot produce energy efficiently, diseases that are difficult to treat frequently arise.

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