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Dissipative systems showing signs of life

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Complex networks of chemical reactions together define how life works. We are familiar with the metabolic networks studied in biochemistry, and in recent decades many regularly recurring network motifs have been uncovered that are responsible for much of the functional behaviour in signalling or genetic networks. However, molecular ‘circuits’ are very delicate, and sensitive to changes in concentration, temperature, and so on. I believe we need a new direction in chemistry to provide a truly molecular level insight into how molecules create life. In this lecture, I will discuss strategies to ‘synthesize’ programmable reaction networks in microfluidic flow reactors, and how compartmentalization forms an intrinsic part to dissipatively adapting nanosystems exhibiting life-like behaviour.

Some relevant publications [1] S.N. Semenov, et al. Nature Chemistry, 2015, 7, 160-165 [2] A.S.Y. Wong, et al. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 8146-8151 [3] A.A.Pogodaev, et. al. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 15296-15299. [4] te Brinke, et al. Nature Nanotech. 2018, 13, 849 [5] Zheng, L. et al. Nature Chemistry, 2019, 11, 359–366

This talk is part of the Biophysical Seminars series.

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