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The automatic molecular assembly and selection steps exhibited by the molecules, which start as random mixtures, demonstrates a fundamental step in the evolution of life. The organization is activated by instructions which are built-in to the molecules. During assembly, molecules exhibit active selection: those in incorrect positions move to make room for others which fit properly. The molecular-level observation of such self-selection gives, for the first time, direct insight into fundamental steps of the biological evolution from inanimate molecules to living entities. The resulting nanostructures also hold great promise as an efficient avenue to new catalysts, nanotechnologies, and surface applications.
In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, the scientists from the research groups of Klaus Kern at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart (MPI) and of Mario Ruben at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) explain that this observation of molecular organization at surfaces may lead to further insight of how simple, inanimate molecules can build up biological entities of increasing structural and functional complexity, such as membranes, cells, leaves, trees, etc. "The ability of molecules to selectively sort themselves in highly organized structures is a fundamental requirement for all molecular based systems, including biological organisms," explains Prof. Dr. Klaus Kern, director of the Nanoscale Science Department at the MPI.
Dr. Mario Ruben’s research team at KIT is responsible for designing molecules with built-in instructions, which when read out activate the self-selection process. He comments: "Spontaneous ordering from random mixtures only occurs when built-in instructions are carefully designed and sufficiently strong to initiate successful self-sele
|Contact: Professor Dr. Klaus Kern|