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

Project description

Designing dissipative self-assembly constructs

Nearly all man-made materials are static, in contrast to living organisms which are dynamically self-assembling structures. Dissipative self-assembly is ubiquitous in nature, giving rise to complex structures and properties such as self-healing, homeostasis and camouflage. Developing the means to design synthetic dissipative self-assembly constructs would greatly impact several industries, including the pharmaceutical and energy sectors. The EU-funded LifeLikeMat project will use chemical reactions such as oxidation of sugars and CO2-to-methanol conversion to drive dissipative self-assembly. It will also develop new modes of intrinsically dissipative self-assembly, whereby the activated building blocks are inherently unstable. The project will lead to new classes of ‘driven’ materials with features such as tunable lifetimes, time-dependent electrical conductivity and dynamic exchange of building blocks.

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."

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Coordinator

INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AUSTRIA
Net EU contribution
€ 582 125,00
Address
Am campus 1
3400 Klosterneuburg
Austria

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Region
Ostösterreich Niederösterreich Wiener Umland/Nordteil
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (2)