The design and synthesis of compounds with novel structures are among the most essential activities in molecular chemistry research. The incentives to prepare such new molecules are, apart from curiosity, their anticipated physical, chemical or biological properties. Strategic aspects of the HRSMC synthetic research are the development of new (bio)catalytic reactions and the investigation of their mechanisms, the synthesis of magnetic and conducting materials, and the development of methodologies for the synthesis of bioactive compounds. A great variety of techniques is used for the synthesis of the compounds as well as for the elucidation of their molecular structure and (physico)chemical and biological properties.
The interaction between light and molecular matter is at the basis of a large number of fundamental and applied research areas in molecular chemistry and physics. In the HRSMC it is employed to probe and utilize fundamental processes such as reaction mechanisms and dynamics, catalytic events, energy and electron transfer, conformational dynamics, and dynamic life processes. Concurrently, advanced spectroscopic techniques are used to elucidate inter- and circumstellar chemistry, and for analytical applications. Many of the groups working in this area are renowned for their development and application of new spectroscopic techniques. Although academic research in spectroscopy is rather widespread in The Netherlands, photochemical and photophysical research of inorganic and organic compounds in gas and condensed phases is more and more confined to groups within the HRSMC.
Understanding the structure of molecules and their chemistry from first principles represents the holy grail of theoretical chemistry. Many molecular properties can be understood directly from the electronic structure. When considering reactivity, it is in many cases necessary to also treat the dynamics of the nuclei taking part in the reaction. Activities of the three theoretical chemistry groups of the HRSMC take place in both areas of research.