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Associate professor Dr Chris Slootweg at the University of Amsterdam's Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences has been awarded an NWO Vici grant of 1.5 million euros to develop novel chemical routes for establishing circularity in phosphorus. As one of the largest personal academic grants in the Netherlands, the Vici grant allows scientists to further develop their line of research and strengthen their research group.

Portrait of Chris Slootweg
Dr Chris Slootweg. Image: HIMS.

With his Vici grant, Chris Slootweg sets out to use phosphorus-based waste streams as a resource, to contribute to reducing environmental pollution and create high-value products using novel, eco-friendly methods. Phosphorus compounds are essential for life on earth and play a prominent role in modern science and technology. Organophosphorus compounds are of immense importance for their wide-ranging applications in material science, nanotechnology, and life sciences.

At present, however, the overall industrial processes to produce these phosphorus compounds are unsustainable, energy-intensive, and inefficient. In his Vici research, Slootweg will develop routes based on efficient redox chemistry to advance the cycling of phosphorus compounds and modernise the use of phosphorus by developing novel one-electron processes that minimise unnecessary redox reactions.

Slootweg aims to implement the resulting innovations into a broader context and develop scalable protocols that are important to bring sustainable phosphorus chemistry to an industrial scale. When successful, his research will enforce a paradigm shift by developing efficient redox cycling methods to convert waste phosphates directly into high-value products using novel synthetic methodologies, and hence, contribute to modernising phosphorus chemistry.

Chris Slootweg studied Physical Organic Chemistry at Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam where he obtained his master's degree in 2001 and his PhD in 2005. After a stint as a postdoctoral researcher at ETH Zürich, he was appointed at the VU as an assistant professor in Main Group and Organometallic Chemistry in 2006. In 2014 he was promoted to associate professor and in 2017 he moved his group to the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. In 2018, he was awarded a Humboldt Research Fellowship for experienced researchers. He is co-founder of the SusPhos BV that developed a process for the recycling of renewable phosphates and their re-use in high-value applications. Chris Slootweg received NWO-TALENT and Vidi personal grants as well as several PPP grants, and he has coordinated the Marie Curie ITN SusPhos.

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