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UMR CNRS-ENS-UPMC 8640 PASTEUR

The UMR has been created in 2000 by Christian Amatore. In his original view, molecular chemistry is a single field whose role is to explore several directions beyond synthesis and has even spilled today deeply towards biology and physics. Its single and central core is the understanding and mastering of molecular reactivity. Molecules are made by reactions and are worth only because their react. The fact that they react chemically, biologically or physically is a matter of semantics, of perturbations and of sought applications. The same is true for their activation which command their reactivity and by extension also for the reactivity and dynamics of (supra)molecular systems inclusive of those of living cells and organisms.

However, molecules cannot react in vacuum except under a few limited circumstances. Indeed, the energy released during a very elementary reaction needs to be dissipated and often the reacting molecules do not possess enough adequate internal levels of energy to do so. As such surrounding media play an important role in molecule reactivity. Yet, their role is not just related to sucking off in time the released energy, since their chemical structure influences the activation and eventually the issue of the reaction when several paths are available. They perform these important functions by their intrinsic chemical properties (e.g., specific solvatation or ligation) but also through the particular electrostatic and electrodynamic fields that they create around the
reacting centers. Yet, though this is central in molecular chemistry and implicitly recognized as such by chemists through empirical considerations and recipes, at the time the research efforts in these directions were extremely small even considering the worldwide scale.

Based on the above reflection we obtained the blessings of CNRS, ENS and of the French Ministry for launching a new research unit centered on these topics, the UMR PASTEUR, whose mission was devoted to investigate such central aspects of molecular activation in view of investigating either molecules reactivity or draw on the ensuing concepts for devising new (bio)analytical applications. This evidently imposed that molecular activation processes were to be investigated under their real operative conditions, viz., fully integrated the molecular surroundings whatever were their chemical, physical or biological nature.