a, b The reaction between phase-separated disulfide (1) and thiol (2) results in formation of (bola)amphiphilic compound 3 that self-assembles into supramolecular micelles (A). These micelles aid in solubilizing the apolar thiol into the aqueous layer, thereby creating an autocatalytic feedback (see insert). The assembler can also use the dissolved thiol in a second type of reaction, thereby producing disulfide polymers. Although this reaction results in the destruction of its building block (compound 3), continued production balances that reaction, resulting in a constant concentration of amphiphile (B). When the supply of thiol (2) gets depleted, amphiphile destruction outcompetes formation, resulting in a decrease in concentration (C). Polymers continue to grow during this period. c iSCAT image of the molecular assembler, composed of (bola)amphiphilic compound 3 show spherical particles (scale bar: 1 µm). The average mass of these particles was calculated at 200 kDa. Note that this image shows the ratiometric contrast of particles, rather than their actual size. Error bars represent the standard deviation. Source data are provided as a Source Data file. A range of reaction conditions were tested, all yielding a similar concentration profile to this example (50 mM 1, pH 8.0, 40 °C, 200 rpm, concentrations were determined using UPLC).