Fig. 1: Lifecycle of the molecular assembler. | Nature Communications

Fig. 1: Lifecycle of the molecular assembler.

From: A molecular assembler that produces polymers

Fig. 1

a Schematic representation of three stages in the lifecycle of a possible design of the molecular assembler described here. (A) Initially, assembler self-replication is required to create substantial amounts of the molecular assembler. (B) Next, after reprogramming the assembler starts to produce the desired product. (C) When the assembler has completed its function, and the system is depleted of fuel or starting material, the assembler is destroyed to produce more product. b The three stages of the molecular assembler realized in our reported system. (A) Formation of the assembler: the reaction between the phase-separated dithiol and disulfide yields a (bola)amphiphilic compound that can self-assemble into supramolecular micelles. These micelles help solubilizing the apolar dithiol, thereby increasing the rate of formation of the amphiphile, a process known as physical autocatalysis. (B) Functional molecular assembler: the micelles keep solubilizing the apolar thiol, thereby generating more amphiphile. This amphiphile is then consumed in a second reaction with additional equivalents of thiol, resulting in the formation (and elongation) of polydisulfides. The assembler produces and consumes its building blocks at the same rate, resulting in a constant concentration of amphiphile. (C) Self-destruction of the assembler: when the starting dithiol is depleted, no more amphiphile can be formed. The assembler uses the remaining amphiphile to continue the polymerization process, thereby consuming its own building blocks until it has completely disappeared.

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