Prof. Pau Ballester

Functional Molecular Assemblies / Materials

Group Leader:

Pau Ballester, ICREA Professor

Scientific Coordinator:

Gemma Aragay

Administrative Support:

Cristina Vega

Postdoctoral Researchers:

Qingquing Sun (until Oct.)

PhD Students:

Ricardo Molina (until Feb.) / Felipe Sierra / Dragos Dabuleanu (until Feb.) / Pedro Ferreira / Chiara Mirabella / Andrea Rivoli / Yifan Li / Hayley Kay Frost



The Ballester group works in the areas of organic chemistry (making molecules) and physical organic chemistry (studying how the molecules interact with each other). Their current research focuses on the design, synthesis, study, and characterization of functional molecular aggregates. Prof. Ballester considers himself an architect / molecular engineer. In the group, they study matter but also produce matter and new materials. The group applies molecular self-assembly processes as a methodology for constructing large and functional interconnected structures, such as molecular machines, or molecular sensors and devices. The group also applies the developed receptors as carriers for anions and amino acids across liposomal membranes.

Their second area of ​​interest is the design and application of molecular containers, cages and capsules. These are molecular or supramolecular architectures with an internal cavity large enough to include or encapsulate other molecules. The cavities of the molecular containers are exploited for the stabilization of reactive molecules or in the mediation of chemical reactions among others.


Yang, J. M.; Chen, Y. Q.; Yu, Y.; Ballester, P.; Rebek J. Jr.
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021143 (46), 19517–19524

The effect of solvent on the binding of anions and ion-pairs with a neutral [2]rotaxane
Molina-Muriel, R.; Romero, J. R.; Li, Y.; Aragay, G.; Ballester, P.
Org. Biomol. Chem. 202119, 9986-9995

Self-assembly of a water-soluble endohedrally functionalized coordination cage including polar guests
Sun, Q.; Escobar, L.; de Jong, J.; Ballester, P.
Chem. Sci. 202112, 13469-13476


Water and the Cation−π Interaction
Zhu, Y.; Tang, M.; Zhang, H.; Rahman, F. U.; Ballester, P.; Rebek Jr., J.; Hunter, C. A.; Yu, Y.
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021143 (31), 12397–12403

Hydrogen-Bonded Dimeric Capsules with Appended Spiropyran Units: Towards Controlled Cargo Release
Ferreira, P.; Moncelsi, G.; Aragay, G.; Ballester, P.
Chem. Eur. J. 202127 (49), 12675-12685

High-Fidelity Sequence-Selective Duplex Formation by Recognition-Encoded Melamine Oligomers
Troselj, P.; Bolgar, P.; Ballester, P.; Hunter, C. A.
 J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021143 (23), 8669–8678

Supramolecular fluorescence sensing of l-proline and l-pipecolic acid
Sierra, A. F.; Aragay, G.; Peñuelas-Haro, G.; Ballester, P.
Org. Chem. Front. 20218, 2402-2412

Expanding Coefficient: A Parameter To Assess the Stability of Induced-Fit Complexes
Talotta, C.; Concilio, G.; De Rosa, M.; Soriente, A.; Gaeta, C.; Rescifina, A.; Ballester, P.; Neri, P.
Org. Lett. 202123 (5), 1804–1808

Hydrolysis of Aliphatic Bis‐isonitriles in the Presence of a Polar Super Aryl‐Extended Calix[4]pyrrole Container
Sun, Q.; Escobar, L.; Ballester, P.
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 202160 (18), 10359-10365

Dysprosium-directed metallosupramolecular network on graphene/Ir(111)
Moreno, D.; Cirera, B.; Parreiras, S. O.; Urgel, J. I.; Giménez-Agulló, N.; Lauwaet, K.; Gallego, J. M.; Galán-Mascarós, J. R.; Martínez, J. I.; Ballester, P.; Mirandaae, R.; Écija, D.
Chem. Commun. 202157, 1380-1383

Molecular Recognition in Water Using Macrocyclic Synthetic Receptors
Escobar, L.; Ballester, P.
Chem. Rev. 2021121 (4), 2445–2514


SOL-Future: Solar Catalysis for a Renewable Energy Future
Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación | Ref: PLEC2021-007906

COMPOFUN: Molecular containers with polar cavities and versatile functions
Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación | Ref: PID2020-114020GB-100

NOAH: Network of Functional Molecular Containers with Controlled Switchable Abilities
MSCA IF | Ref: 765297 | Web page

CALIXCONTAINERS: Contenedores moleculares y supramoleculares basados en calix[4]pirroles aril-extendidos y super aril-extendidos: estudios fundamentales y aplicaciones
Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación | Ref: CTQ2017-84319-P

Química supramolecular interdisciplinar
AGAUR | Ref: 2017SGR1123


Theses Supervised

Ricardo Molina Muriel
February 4th, 2021
Universitat Rovira i Virgili
«Calix[4]pyrrole Based Receptors for the Recognition of Ion Pairs»

Qingqing Sun
July 23rd, 2021
Universitat Rovira i Virgili
«Aryl and Super Aryl-Extended Calix[4]pyrroles: Synthesis and Applications»

Quentin Bouvier
December 16th, 2021
Universitat Rovira i Virgili
«Encapsulation of Reactive Components for Polyurethane Systems»



Prof. Ballester joins the European Academy of Sciences