Self-assembly is the process by which an organized structure spontaneously forms from individual components, as a result of specific, local interactions among the components. When the constitutive components are molecules, the process is termed molecular self-assembly.


Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research
    | Open Access

    Natural biomolecules such as peptides and DNA can dynamically self-organize into diverse hierarchical structures. Here the authors report experiments and simulations on the dynamic network self-assembly and subsequent collapse of the synthetic homopolymer poly(propylene sulfone).

    • Fanfan Du
    • , Baofu Qiao
    • , Trung Dac Nguyen
    • , Michael P. Vincent
    • , Sharan Bobbala
    • , Sijia Yi
    • , Chamille Lescott
    • , Vinayak P. Dravid
    • , Monica Olvera de la Cruz
    •  & Evan Alexander Scott
  • Research |

    Crystal symmetry is notoriously uncorrelated to the symmetry of the constituent molecules that make up a crystal. Symmetry breaking is typically thought to occur during nucleation and growth, but a symmetry element of olanzapine crystals—an inversion centre—has now been shown to emerge in centrosymmetric dimers extant in solution prior to crystallization.

    • Monika Warzecha
    • , Lakshmanji Verma
    • , Blair F. Johnston
    • , Jeremy C. Palmer
    • , Alastair J. Florence
    •  & Peter G. Vekilov
    Nature Chemistry 12, 914-920
  • Research
    | Open Access

    Buckling instabilities in amphiphile-based lamellar systems can lead to the formation of tubular fingers. Van der Weijden et al. show how to shepherd their growth and destination by using drain droplets that help establishing stable interconnected mesoscale droplet networks.

    • Arno van der Weijden
    • , Mitch Winkens
    • , Sandra M. C. Schoenmakers
    • , Wilhelm T. S. Huck
    •  & Peter A. Korevaar
  • Research |

    Self-assembly of cubic diamond crystals is demonstrated, by using precursor clusters of particles with carefully placed ‘sticky’ patches that attract and bind adjacent clusters in specific geometries.

    • Mingxin He
    • , Johnathon P. Gales
    • , Étienne Ducrot
    • , Zhe Gong
    • , Gi-Ra Yi
    • , Stefano Sacanna
    •  & David J. Pine
    Nature 585, 524-529
  • Research |

    The authors investigate the role of spherical confinement and curvature-induced topological defects on the crystallization of charged colloids. They conclude that crystallization in spherical confinement is due to a combination of thermodynamics and kinetic pathways.

    • Yanshuang Chen
    • , Zhenwei Yao
    • , Shixiang Tang
    • , Hua Tong
    • , Taiki Yanagishima
    • , Hajime Tanaka
    •  & Peng Tan

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    After years of speculation on the origins of symmetry-making and -breaking during crystallization, time-resolved in situ scanning probe microscopy and all-atom molecular dynamics simulations have shown that the formation of olanzapine crystals largely occurs by the incorporation of centrosymmetric dimers into growth sites.

    • Susan M. Reutzel-Edens
    Nature Chemistry 12, 887-888
  • News and Views |

    Controlling the formation of ordered and predictable patterns in dissipative reaction–diffusion processes is challenging. Now, liquid vibrations induced by audible sound have been shown to direct the formation of spatiotemporal patterns in switchable chemical systems and assemblies.

    • Charalampos G. Pappas
    Nature Chemistry 12, 784-785
  • News and Views |

    It’s not known how life’s essential properties of replication, metabolism and compartmentalization were first integrated. Two recent articles now shed light on how metabolic characteristics may be incorporated into replicating systems, harnessing an external energy source to increase their rate of replication and acquiring catalytic activity.

    • Pablo Solís-Muñana
    •  & Jack L. Y. Chen
    Nature Chemistry 12, 585-587
  • News and Views |

    Programmable DNA hybridization is used to mediate the self-assembly of substrate-bound DNA-grafted gold nanoparticles into single-crystalline Winterbottom and non-Winterbottom constructions with particular size, shape and orientation.

    • Chang Liu
    •  & Qian Chen
    Nature Materials 19, 704-705
  • News and Views |

    A series of mesoscale supramolecular hexagonal grids have been constructed in solution through stepwise intra- then intermolecular coordination-driven self-assembly, and characterized with atomic resolution by scanning tunnelling microscopy and spectroscopy.

    • Ruoning Li
    •  & Yongfeng Wang
    Nature Chemistry 12, 431-432
  • News and Views |

    Equilibrium self-assembly processes find free-energy minima but no such general statement holds for systems driven out of equilibrium. A new study has employed laser-induced convective flows to achieve dissipative self-assembly across multiple scales with universal growth and fluctuation statistics.

    • Gili Bisker
    Nature Physics 16, 707-708