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Materials Chemistry to Mimic Living Matter

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One of the grand challenges in materials chemistry is the search for synthetic supramolecular systems that could mimic the behaviors of living matter. Advances in this frontier could yield materials that impact health, energy, and environmental protection technologies. The design of molecular motions and the discovery of mechanisms for reversible formation of structure, particularly hierarchical ones, are of fundamental importance in this area. A remarkable biological example is the dynamic formation and disassembly of supramolecular polymers in the cytoskeleton of cells. Ideally such biomimetic reversible behavior in synthetic soft matter would occur at constant temperature through the addition of chemicals or the use of other external stimuli. This lecture will report on the development of biomolecular systems that mimic protein ligands to signal cells or organize reversibly into superstructures upon addition of molecules. Of relevance to energy and the environment, the lecture will also discuss photocatalytic synthetic systems inspired by the photosynthetic machinery of green plants, and others that respond to light or magnetic fields to acquire robotic functions.

This talk is part of the Biophysical Seminars series.

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