Today, one of the greatest challenges facing physics, chemistry, and (bio)materials science, is to precisely design molecules so as to program their spontaneous bottom-up assembly into functional nano-objects and materials, based on recognition and self-organization processes. Beyond that, in order to reach higher-performing new materials and to bridge the gap between materials science and life science, it appears essential to bring together both multiple responsive levels of hierarchical organization and time-dependent processes.
The objectives of the SelfChem research project are part of this bundle of explorations and thus lie within an area inquiry which encompasses a better understanding of complex systems, self-organization, and emergence of order from chaos. The main specificity and novelty of the SelfChem project is to focus on an issue that has not been approached to date, namely the possibility to transfer chemical or physical information, in space and time, through the self-induced organization of their own supramolecular carriers. In other words, we wish to show that the circulation of information can be the driving force for the self-assembly of systems that will in turn serve to transfer this very information. The main axes of the proposal are three-fold and deal with: a) the duplication of chemical information towards several generations of bounded systems that couple small molecular self-replicators within self-replicating vesicles (reproduction); b) the transfer and conversion of chemical information between two compartments separated by a non permeable membrane (transduction); and c) the transport of physical information, i.e. electric charges, by the enforced self-organization of molecular wires between two electrodes (conduction). In addition to these fundamental investigations, we plan to use the knowledge produced for the design of smart, responsive, and adaptive (bio)materials.
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