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Over the past few years, Nature Nanotechnology has published a set of commissioned Reviews, Perspectives and Commentaries on life-inspired and out-of-equilibrium systems at the nanoscale. We have now collected these contributions in this web focus hoping that they will serve to inspire and guide future explorations in this area.
In 1944, Erwin Schrödinger posed the question “How can the events in space and time which take place within the spatial boundary of a living organism be accounted for by physics and chemistry?” Studying out-of-equilibrium chemical systems may take us closer to an answer.
The merging of supramolecular chemistry and systems chemistry is beginning to unveil the richness of emerging physicochemical properties attainable by exploiting far-from-equilibrium systems, as this Review explains.
Recent theoretical advances are starting to elucidate how natural systems use dissipative self-assembly to build their complex nanomachinery and might point to ways in which the same principles can be exploited to fabricate analogous artificial nanoassemblies.
This Review discusses the fundamental challenges for making enzymatic reactions occur in surface- or volume-confined environments that may be suitable for technological applications in vitro and in vivo.
Biological motors and pumps are equilibrium devices that couple chemical, electrical and mechanical processes in an environment that is far from equilibrium. Recognition of the key role played by microscopic reversibility in their operation is a first step towards rational design of artificial molecular devices.