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Dissipative self-assembly in synthetic systems: Towards life-like materials

Objective

"Living organisms are sophisticated self-assembled structures that exist and operate far from thermodynamic equilibrium and, as such, represent the ultimate example of dissipative self-assembly. They remain stable at highly organized (low-entropy) states owing to the continuous consumption of energy stored in ""chemical fuels"", which they convert into low-energy waste. Dissipative self-assembly is ubiquitous in nature, where it gives rise to complex structures and properties such as self-healing, homeostasis, and camouflage. In sharp contrast, nearly all man-made materials are static: they are designed to serve a given purpose rather than to exhibit different properties dependent on external conditions. Developing the means to rationally design dissipative self-assembly constructs will greatly impact a range of industries, including the pharmaceutical and energy sectors.

The goal of the proposed research program is to develop novel principles for designing dissipative self-assembly systems and to fabricate a range of dissipative materials based on these principles. To achieve this goal, we will employ novel, unconventional approaches based predominantly on integrating organic and colloidal-inorganic building blocks.

Specifically, we will (WP1) drive dissipative self-assembly using chemical reactions such as polymerization, oxidation of sugars, and CO2-to-methanol conversion, (WP2) develop new modes of intrinsically dissipative self-assembly, whereby the activated building blocks are inherently unstable, and (WP3&4) conceive systems whereby self-assembly is spontaneously followed by disassembly.

The proposed studies will lead to new classes of ""driven"" materials with features such as tunable lifetimes, time-dependent electrical conductivity, and dynamic exchange of building blocks. Overall, this project will lay the foundations for developing new synthetic dissipative materials, bringing us closer to the rich and varied functionality of materials found in nature."

Field of science

  • /medical and health sciences/basic medicine/physiology/homeostasis
  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/electromagnetism and electronics/electrical conductivity
  • /natural sciences/chemical sciences/electrochemistry/electrolysis
  • /engineering and technology/environmental engineering/energy and fuels

Call for proposal

ERC-2018-COG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-COG - Consolidator Grant

Host institution

WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
Address
Herzl Street 234
7610001 Rehovot
Israel
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 999 572

Beneficiaries (1)

WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
Israel
EU contribution
€ 1 999 572
Address
Herzl Street 234
7610001 Rehovot
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments