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Shape-generating chemical systems

This multidisciplinary activity of the group is concerned with the discovery of new concepts for shape- generating molecular materials. In one of our seminal works we have reported how the interplay between asymmetry by gradients and anisotropy of e.g. liquid crystals, combined with the action of molecular switches, can encode the conversion of light into helical movement. Ultimately, we hope that simple shape-generating systems will help untangle some of the physical and chemical underpinnings of shape evolution in biology, contribute to the developing new paradigms for soft robotics, and to the design of responsive and adaptive materials.

Figure 1
Research image

Motile behavior of minimal life forms

Movement has been seen as a hallmark of life from the earliest times. We are working toward incorporating complex motile behavior into synthetic mimics of minimal life-forms, by coupling molecular chemistry to physical processes. A theme of this program is to develop droplets, coacervates, vesicles, and other active supramolecular compartments that move with a purpose and autonomously, by using metabolic energy.