Building life-like materials that self-organize at mesoscopic scale


NaMeS students are invited to IPC PAS Seminar within Dream Chemistry Lecture Series delivered by:

Dr. Peter Korevaar

Institute for Molecules and Materials, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 10.00


Assembly hall of the IPC PAS


Living matter has unique properties that are a great source of inspiration to create materials with unprecedented characteristics. Departing from molecular self-assemblies that operate under equilibrium conditions, non-equilibrium systems are increasingly explored to introduce life-like behaviour into synthetic matter.

In our research group, we build chemical systems that pick up stimuli from their environment and process these into behavior that is programmed by (physico)chemical mechanisms. Inspired by slime molds that grow long wires and form networks while exploring surfaces to localize food, we developed a chemical system of amphiphiles that assemble into networks of centimeter-long filaments. These filaments coordinate as they grow, driven by Marangoni effects, the self-organization of droplets at aqueous surfaces.  A simple model rationalizes different types of spatial self-organization, depending on the kinetic rates of amphiphile release and -depletion.  Furthermore, insights from the model enable feedback mechanisms – positive and negative – to the growth of filaments, by manipulating the Marangoni flux upon controlled (de)-activation of surfactant molecules, which lead to adaptability of the network connections.  We foresee that these principles will contribute to new classes of life-like materials, driven by autonomously operating systems that transfer chemical signals through spontaneously emerging and re-wiring self-assembled connections.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 711859.