Prof. Pau Ballester

Functional Molecular Assemblies / Materials

Group Leader:

Pau Ballester, ICREA Professor

Administrative Support:

Beatriz Martin

Postdoctoral Researchers:

Gemma Aragay

PhD Students:

Ricardo Molina / Guillem Peñuelas (until Jan.) / Andrés Felipe Sierra / Dragos Dabuleanu / Qingqing Sun / Pedro Ferreira / Chiara Mirabella / Andrea Rivoli

Visiting Students:

Quentin Bouvier

Erasmus Students:

Stefania Gambaro (Jan. – Sep.) / Anna Brzechwa-Chodzyńska (Jan. – Apr.)


The Ballester group works in the areas of organic chemistry (making molecules) and supramolecular chemistry (studying how they 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. He studies matter but also produces 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.

Their second area of ​​interest is the design and application of molecular containers. These are molecular or supramolecular architectures with an internal cavity large enough to include or encapsulate other molecules. The group also collaborates with groups specializing in the production of sensor devices, providing receptors for their implementation in the devices.


‘Facilitated Diffusion of Proline across Membranes of Liposomes and Living Cells by a Calix[4]pyrrole Cavitand’

Martínez-Crespo, L.; Sun-Wang, J. L.; Sierra, A. F.; Aragay, G.; Errasti-Murugarren, E.; Bartoccioni, P.; Palacín, M.; Ballester, P.
Chem. 2020, 6 (11), 3054-3070

‘Aromaticity and Chemical Bonding of Chalcogen‐Bonded Capsules Featuring Enhanced Magnetic Anisotropy’
Tzeli, D.; Petsalakis, I. D.; Theodorakopoulos, G.; Rahman, F. U.; Ballester, P.; Rebek Jr., J.; Yu, Y.
ChemPhysChem 2020, 21 (19), 2187-2195

‘Thread based microfluidic platform for urinary creatinine analysis’
Arroyo, M. J.; Erenas, M. M.; deOrbe-Payá, I.; Cantrell, K.; Dobado, J. A.; Ballester, P.; Blondeau, P.; Salinas-Castillo, A.; Capitán-Vallvey, L. F.
Sens. Actuators B Chem. 2020, 305, 127407


‘Chalcogen Bonding and Hydrophobic Effects Force Molecules into Small Spaces’
Rahman, F. U.; Tzeli, D.; Petsalakis, I. D.; Theodorakopoulos, G.; Ballester, P.; Rebek Jr., J.; Yu, Y.
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142 (12), 5876–5883

‘Kinetic Stabilities and Exchange Dynamics of Water‐Soluble Bis‐Formamide Caviplexes Studied Using Diffusion‐Ordered NMR Spectroscopy (DOSY)’
Escobar, L.; Li, Y. S.; Cohen, Y.; Yu, Y.; Rebek, J. Jr.; Ballester, P.
Chem.: Eur. J 2020, 26 (37), 8220-8225

‘Influence of the Attachment of a Gold(I) Phosphine Moiety at the Upper Rim of a Calix[4]pyrrole on the Binding of Tetraalkylammonium Chloride Salts’
Sun, Q.; Aragay, G.; Pinto, A.; Aguiló, E.; Rodríguez, L.; Ballester, P.
Chem.: Eur. J 2020, 26 (15), 3348-3357

‘Optical Supramolecular Sensing of Creatinine’
Sierra, A. F.; Hernández-Alonso, D.; Romero, M. A.; González-Delgado, J. A.; Pischel, U.; Ballester, P.
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142 (9), 4276–4284

Synthesis, X-ray Characterization and Density Functional Theory (DFT) Studies of Two Polymorphs of the α,α,α,α, Isomer of Tetra-p-Iodophenyl Tetramethyl Calix[4]pyrrole: On the Importance of Halogen Bonds
Dăbuleanu, D.; Bauzá, A.; Ortega-Castro, J.; Escudero-Adán, E. C.; Ballester, P.; Frontera, A.
Molecules 2020, 25 (2), 285


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

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

Química supramolecular interdisciplinar
AGAUR | Ref: 2017SGR1123


Theses Supervised

Guillem Peñuelas i Haro
July 16th, 2020
Universitat Rovira i Virgili
‘Towards Recognition of Polar Molecules in Water Using Aryl-extended Calix[4]pyrrole Receptors”



Igniting the synthetic transport of amino acids in living cells